New Petition Demands Women of Color Serve As Debate Moderators in Future Democratic Presidential Debates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 30, 2019

CONTACT: Madison Donzis |

New Petition Demands Women of Color Serve As Debate Moderators in Future Democratic Presidential Debates

Higher Heights, the National Women’s Law Center and UltraViolet Action Come Together to Demand Better Representation of Debate Moderators

WASHINGTON, DC — A coalition of women’s advocacy organizations – Higher Heights, the National Women’s Law Center and UltraViolet Action – have come together in a new campaign demanding that future debates include a woman of color as the moderator.


While the DNC committed to having a woman moderate every debate there is still a major representation problem. This week, CNN’s Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper will moderate both nights of the Democratic Debates in Detroit, Michigan. That means zero Black women or women of color moderators—again. 

“We have the most diverse pool of presidential candidates in our country’s history  including the third Black woman to seek the democratic nomination.   Yet, the debate stage has left out an important voice at the moderator’s table,” said Glynda C. Carr, President and CEO of Higher Heights for America. “In this election cycle, Black women are demanding our return on our voting investment and our voices be present and heard in setting the vision for our country and  policies that affect Black women, our families and communities. Black women are claiming our seats and that includes the moderator’s seat.”

“Debate moderators have an important role to play in shaping public perceptions of candidates, so including more women moderators is an important first step for the networks during these debates,” noted Anna Chu, Vice President for Strategy and Policy at the National Women’s Law Center. “But to state the obvious, not all women are white. Black women and other women of color are important and influential members of the electorate as well as society at large. The issues that matter most to us, and the people best positioned to hold candidates accountable for speaking to those issues, must be included at the moderator’s table.”

“Today’s voters are more diverse than ever before, and this year’s primaries feature the most diverse group of candidates in modern history. But there’s a clear representation problem when it comes to who sits at the debate moderators’ table. Moderators hold a lot of power over how the debates unfold. They determine what questions are asked, which issues are centered, and which candidates get the most air time. Moderators are supposed to represent voters’ greatest interests and concerns, but how can they do that when they don’t represent a key group of American voters?” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director at UltraViolet Action. “Networks have a responsibility to ensure these important debates are inclusive, relevant, and actually representative of the American people. It’s ridiculous that we’re stillfighting to get a Black woman or a woman of color a seat at the moderators’ table.”

Earlier this Summer, UltraViolet Action, led a coalition of organizations in an effort to convince media outlets like NBC to ensure that at least 50% of debate and town hall moderators were women and people of color. In May, shortly after informing the DNC about UltraViolet Action’s #AskForWomen Pledge, which had secured the support of a number of prominent 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates, the Democratic National Committee announced that it will require female moderators at every 2020 presidential debate.

# # # # #