She the People, a national network of women of color in politics, is planning a presidential forum in April to question candidates specifically about issues concerning women of color, the organization announced Thursday.
No presidential campaigns have committed to attending the forum yet, but Aimee Allison, the founder of the organization, said that campaigns and people still mulling presidential runs are aware of the opportunity to speak directly with women of color.
“I want it to be clear: No one will be the Democratic Party nominee without the support of women of color — that’s the clear message. We are the new American majority,” Allison told BuzzFeed News over a phone call. “It’s long past the time for a forum that focuses on the issues that are important to the base of the Democratic Party.”
The forum will be held at Texas Southern University, a historically black university in Houston. Candidates attending the forum will answer questions from the audience.
The announcement comes as several people of color have jumped into the presidential race. On Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris announced that she was running for president, and earlier this month, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard both announced that they were running.
Women of color are a key voting demographic for the Democratic Party in elections across the country, and consistently turn out to vote at high rates. In Southern primaries, including in early states like South Carolina, black women comprise a large portion of the electorate and helped secure the nomination for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker, who are both weighing campaigns, and Elizabeth Warren, who is running, all traveled to South Carolina this week, bringing passionate speeches that spoke directly to the concerns of black voters in the state. On Friday, Harris will appear at a fundraiser in the state for her sorority.
“Women of color, as a voting bloc, are the backbone of the Democratic Party and we’re really leading the way with these issues, and we’ve shown that we can get behind candidates of different genders and different races and really affect an election,” Allison recently told BuzzFeed News. “But now we’re demanding way more from the candidates. They need to speak directly to us, and anything short just isn’t going to cut it.”
In December, a straw poll from She the People of women of color working in politics found early support coalescing behind Harris before she jumped into the presidential race.
“Women of color are interested in if these candidates are really serious about what we want to see in this country. We have an agenda,” Allison said. “This is a chance for these candidates to make their case about why they deserve our support.”