The changing face of state legislatures.
There are more women, African Americans and Hispanics serving in state legislatures now than at any other time in our nation's history, according to a recent NCSL survey.
The number of women serving in legislatures has increased substantially in the past 30 years, from several hundred to 1,792--or 24.3 per cent of state legislative seats nationwide. African Americans now hold approximately 9 percent of all seats, and Latinos a little more than 3 percent.
Asian Americans and Native Americans each hold slightly more than 1 percent of all legislative seats.
More than any other minority group, African Americans have seen the greatest increases over the past four decades. In 1970, there were only 169 African-American lawmakers; today there are 628. "The greatest gains for African Americans came in the early to mid-1990s as a result of redistricting," says David Bositis, a senior political analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "We are also seeing a growing number of African Americans elected to majority-white districts, and that is encouraging for the future."
Delaware Representative Joseph Miro, a Latino, is confident that the number of Latinos seeking elected office will continue to increase as well. "As the Latino community continues to grow and expand throughout the country, we will see a growing number of Latinos getting involved at the grassroots level and running for office," he says.
"We still need to continue to encourage the Latino community to get involved in the political process and exercise their right to vote, but I am very optimistic about the future."
--Morgan Cullen, NCSL
LEGISLATORS AMERICANS BY BY RACE, 2009 RACE, 2009 Caucasian 86% 65.1% African American 9% 13.4% Latino 3% 15.1% Native American 1% 1.4% Asian American 1% 5% Source: U.S. Census Bureau Note: Table made from pie chart.