Note: Americans are preparing to choose a leader and a path through a time of extraordinary division and turmoil. Associated Press journalists tell their stories in the series “America Disrupted.” Today we take a look at some of the Black women running for election in 2020.

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Black women have long been the heart of the Democratic Party — among the party’s most reliable and loyal voters — but for decades that allegiance didn’t translate to their own political rise. There have been zero Black female governors, just two senators, several dozen congresswomen. And the people representing them instead have not met their needs: Disparities, sometimes deadly ones, persist in health care, policing, education and economics.

Now Black women are mobilized and demanding an overdue return on their investment. Over the last several years and across America, Black women ran and won elections in historic numbers, from Congress to county school boards.

Just two years ago, five Black women were elected to Congress, four of them in majority-white districts, according to the Higher Heights Black Women in American Politics 2019 survey.

Now Joe Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate, and at least six of the contenders are Black — including California Rep. Karen Bass, who said, “I think what we’re looking for is representation, acknowledgement, inclusion.”

This transformation is taking place in once unlikely places, suburban counties in the South. Black women added their names to down-ticket ballots; they are canvassing, knocking on doors.

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