Afro-Colombian Francia Marquez's Ascendance Is Historic
Photo by Ovidio Gonzalez/Getty Images

Afro-Colombian Francia Marquez's Ascendance Is Historic

The single mother and former cleaner captured many as they voted her and President-elect Gustavo Petro in to redirect the South American nation's path.

In what could arguably be the greatest rags to freedom story in some time, Colombia has voted in their first-ever Black woman Vice President. The historic vote saw leftist Afro-Colombian lawyer and activist Francia Márquez win alongside President-elect Gustavo Petro in Sunday's election. The pair won by 50.4%, just making it as Colombia's first elected government to follow leftist ideologies. Naturally, racists are upset, but for so many Colombians, seeing a Black woman in power was considered a thing of fantasy.

Márquez is a single mother, and worked as a housekeeper for many years, before going on to become a lawyer and longtime activist. In 2018, the VP was awarded a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her celebrated work as an environmental activist, and her opposition to gold mining in her hometown, Suarez. The politician ran with communities in Cauca province rallying behind her as the promise for assistance in areas plagued by violence and poverty provided the necessary momentum to get voting. Roughly 80% of Suarez, Cauca's lives in poverty of some kind.

Márquez and current senator Petro were seen celebrating in front of a backdrop reading "Change Is Unstoppable," and Sunday's historical election made the victorious quote seem that much more believable. Márquez thanked voters from every corner of Colombia for supporting her and Petro's campaign. "After 214 years we have achieved a government of the people, a popular government, a government of people with calloused hands ... the government of the nobodies of Colombia," she said.

Márquez is ready to make a change as she has signed on to lead a new ministry dedicated to equality, and building on her central themes of improving women's rights and making healthcare and education accessible to poor communities -- all while serving as Petro's vice president.

Colombia's Afro-Colombian population is large and largely underrepresented and disenfranchised. Márquez joins Colombian politician Juan José Nieto Gil (the country only acknowledged his 1861 presidency in 2018 ... sigh) as one of the first Afro-Colombian people to lead.

Gustavo officially takes office on August 7, and we can only hope that Sam Smith's 'A Change Is Gonna Come' makes it as the song to represent their time in charge.

Supporters from all over the world shared messages of congratulations and hope for the newly elected Vice President.