While we patiently await the election of the first Black woman governor, we can celebrate the arrival of Dr. Lisa Cook as the first African American woman governor on the Federal Reserve. She was confirmed on Tuesday after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote in a senate tie.
Cook’s confirmation is approved at a most propitious time with President Biden announcing that inflation is his top domestic priority. She joins six other governors on this independent agency who are responsible for promoting maximum employment, stabilizing prices, and keeping the inflation numbers down, and to what extent her presence will make a difference is debatable.
But her resume is overwhelmingly impressive, and if you’ve got an hour to spare you can follow a career path that began at Spelman College, where she graduated magna cum laude, to Oxford University, to the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal, and concluding at the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her doctorate in economics.
She is currently a professor of economics at Michigan State University, and her research has included the disparities in lynching, rural segregation and racial violence. But more to the economic matters is her professional experience in banking with stints at the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis; the World Bank; the Brookings Institution; and the Institute for the Economy in Transition in Moscow, Russia.
Her appointment is a harbinger that two other Biden nominees, most notably Chair Jerome Powell, will also be confirmed. Cook’s opponents charged that she lacked sufficient experience in macroeconomics and monetary policy, which were the focus of her dissertation.
She was challenged in the same way Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was viciously assailed by the Republicans, and it’s got to be exceedingly rewarding for Black women as Roe v. Wade is the buzz nowadays, to have another first set aside. Still, there are a number of firsts to be achieved.
Take your seat at the Fed, Dr. Cook and your accomplishments will be additional inspiration and encouragement for thousands of Black females here and abroad. They should know that it is possible for a young Black girl from Georgia to rise to the highest plateau of banking, and possibly have a decisive impact on our economic affairs.