As the Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once cautioned, there’s danger in a single story. Those words of wisdom could be readily applied to black women and their voting motivations in this election cycle. For black women in Chicago on Tuesday night, their reasons for voting—and who they voted for—spanned the spectrum.
According to exit polls from NBC News, 93 percent of black women nationally voted for Hillary Clinton, with 4 percent voting for Donald Trump. Black women make up 7 percent of the nation’s electorate, while also making up the majority of votes in the black community. With women voters, Clinton came away with a 12-point edge, according to exit polling, thanks primarily to women of color—who were with her in overwhelming margins. Meanwhile, white women favored Trump by nine percentage points, according to exit polls.
That means no voting group came out for Clinton as strongly as black women did on Tuesday.
Although Illinois was expected to fall into the Clinton column, propelled by record-setting early voting turnout, many black women continued voting in full force up until the polls closed.
On the south side, black women voters at precincts in Ashburn and Hyde Park were as much motivated by voting for a woman president as they were by mobilizing against a Trump presidency.
Bette Taylor, 69, wanted to see history so much that she personally phoned 50 of her friends to get out and vote on Tuesday. She was fired up for an Obama win in 2008, and she was just as fired up this year, she said. But this time around, the stakes, she said, were far too high.
“Trump talks down at people,” she said, noting his many remarks about people of color, people with disabilities, and women. “He just makes people want to get out to vote to make sure he doesn’t get in.”
Taylor also felt that it was important to vote because of the struggles of previous generations, including African-Americans and women, to access the ballot box.
It’s a sentiment that also resonated with black millennial women like Kareesa Franklin, 28, who said she wasn’t voting only for herself on election night.
“2008 was my first vote, and it was very emotional,” she said. “My grandparents got a chance to vote for the first black president before they passed away,” she said. The same was true for her mother. “I wanted to vote for [Clinton] tonight because I know they would’ve wanted to.”
As much as Franklin felt her vote was one for the history books, she also said her choice was one against the “greater evil” represented by Trump.
Imani Williams, a first-time voter, agreed.
“His supporters are violent, and use anything they can to harm anyone who’s not supporting Trump,” said the 20-year-old. “Everything is below the bar, and making it so that not every voice can be heard.”
But believe it or not, there were Trump voters to be found among black women heading to the polls Tuesday evening. They felt disaffected by a Clinton candidacy, and disillusioned by the promise of hope and change that they believe—as Obama voters—wasn’t delivered upon.
“What have the Democrats done for black people? Nothing,” said Sophia Love, 62. “Obama had a lot of opportunity to do something for this country, but he didn’t.”
“The way it looks right now, black people do not have a future,” she added. “Everyone can come here and get rich except for African-Americans. So I voted my conscience, so that we can go back to the way things once were.”
Although Trump had major gaffes with regard to women, that didn’t diminish what Love saw as upsides to his leadership.
“Money makes the world go ’round, not people,” Love said. “We need to look at his strengths on business and the economy.”
And Bette Marsh, 73, said she felt great voting for Donald Trump in Hyde Park on Tuesday night, casting one of the last votes to come in at her precinct.
“I like Hillary but she’s been in politics for 30 years, and black people are worse off now than they were then,” she said, citing Clinton’s support for the 1994 crime bill as particularly detrimental to black communities, while expressing skepticism about immigration reform. “[Trump] is the first white man at his level that I’ve heard say black people are struggling and that he’ll help with jobs. . . we should give him a chance.”
With the election hanging in the balance late into Tuesday evening—a toss-up that favors a Trump presidency—the results could hinge on higher-than-expected turnouts in rural counties across the country. But no group voted as hard for “never Trump” as black women did in this election.