Vermont’s only Black woman state legislator drops out of race due to racist threats

Rep. Ruqaiyah “Kiah” Morris (D), the only Black woman in the Vermont House of Representatives, has dropped out of her race because of online threats and harassment.

Kiah Morris
Rep. Kiah Morris (Courtesy of Twitter @KiahMorrisVT)

Rep. Ruqaiyah “Kiah” Morris (D), the only Black woman in the Vermont House of Representatives, has dropped out of her race for re-election due to excessive online threats and harassment.

According to the Huffington Post, Friday, Morris announced in a Facebook post that she would serve out the rest of her second term in the Vermont state legislature, but then had decided not seek to be re-elected for a third.

“The last two years have been emotionally difficult for many,” she wrote in the post. “Political discourse, and in particular within the sphere of social media has been divisive, inflammatory and at times, even dangerous,” she shared with her followers.

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“I will finish out my term and pass on the mantle at the end of this year,” Morris continued. “I will continue to serve as your representative, and am available to support the community in any way I can. Please know, this is not a “goodbye forever,” but a “see you soon.” There is so much more incredible work to be achieved locally, statewide and nationally and I look forward to working with you towards the continued strength of our state. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!”

In a statement sent to the Huffington Post, NAACP’s Vermont chapter director Tabitha Pohl-Moore said the organization is “extremely disappointed that the situation escalated to this level.”

“We continue to work with Representative Morris and authorities on accountability for the perpetrators; not just for Representative Morris and her family, but also for Vermonters of color as a whole,” the statement read. “Her safety has been compromised by the actions of people who harbor intense, hateful, racist beliefs. I wish that I could say I was surprised, but I am not.”

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Monday, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced that his office is investigating the threats made against Morris.

Morris, who is originally from Chicago, lives in Bennington, VT. with her husband and son. Before joining politics, Morris worked in non-profit administration, sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy, internet sales strategist and university level program management.