Clayton County has the most Black women in office in the US, and they're preserving the legacy

Clayton County has 41 Black women in elected office, the most of any county in the U.S., according to Black Women Run, Black Women Vote. (Photo courtesy Rhonda Burnough)

Georgia’s gubernatorial race this year could yield the first Black woman in a governor’s office in U.S. history, but Black women have long been leaders in the state.

One county is ensuring future generations of Black girls know that legacy.

State Rep. Sandra Scott of Rex was on a call with Black Women Run, Black Women Vote — a national coalition of organizers — when someone surprised her.

“One of the leaders on the call was saying that Clayton County has the most Black elected women,” Scott said. “I was like, Clayton County has the most Black elected women? It was astounding to me to hear her say that.”

Clayton County has 41 Black women in elected office, and Scott is one of them. The first office she held was on the school board. Now, she’s on her 12th year as a state representative.

She and state Rep. Rhonda Burnough of Riverdale memorialized that statistic with a book called “Legacy Letters,” where most of the elected Black women officials wrote a letter to young women in Clayton County telling their stories, describing what they do and giving advice on how to get there.

“It is truly important for little girls to know that they could too one day become an elected official,” Scott said. “We just elected a Black [woman] Supreme Court justice, something that we thought we will never see in our lifetime.”

And it starts with seeing themselves in leaders at home, said Burnough. Her letter starts out describing how her parents, who both held public office, instilled the value of serving community.

In it, she writes, “The call to actions my parents issued still resonates with me today. My hope is that the stories of the successful Black women will encourage you to find ways to serve your community as you pursue your purpose.”

She says she’s impressed with the little girls she talks to because they not only know who their representatives are, but also dream of running for office.