Zerlina Smith Becomes First Black Woman Chair of Any Illinois Party

On Saturday, March 25th, the membership of the Illinois Green Party at their statewide Membership Meeting elected Zerlina Smith as party Chair. Ms. Smith will be the first Black woman to lead the Illinois Green Party, and the first Black chairperson of any established political party in the state of Illinois.

“This is the face of the Green Party right now,” said Ms. Smith, immediately following her election. “This is a vibrant, diverse, and growing party, with people from all walks of life and all colors of skin.”

A longtime resident of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, Ms. Smith’s extensive activist résumé includes service as a school board member, the founding of neighborhood non-profit Increase the Harvest, and a run for Alderman in the 29th Ward in 2015. Ms. Smith served as the Illinois State Coordinator for the Stein/Baraka 2016 Presidential campaign.

IMG_6472.JPGThe Illinois Green Party’s newly-elected Executive Committee. Clockwise from top left: Rich Whitney, Chris Blankenhorn, Geoffrey Cubbage, Julie Samuels, Zerlina Smith (and daughter Cherish), Tammie Vinson.

Longtime Green Party member Julie Samuels of Oak Park also ran for Chair, making it the first time that the position was contested by an all-female ballot. The election was cordial, with both women embracing before and afterwards.

Outgoing Green Party Chair Vito Mastrangelo said following the election, “This is going to be an exciting year for the Green Party. Our membership is growing, it’s young, and it’s diverse. The country is ready for a people’s party of the Left, and that’s us.”

Ms. Smith will be available for comment or interview in the week following her election. For information or further materials, contact ILGP Secretary Geoffrey Cubbage, secretary@ilgp.org, 224-999-2423.