The Black Politicians Who Made History in 2018 ─ And Are Ready to do it Again
By Abigail Simard
In 2018, Americans elected the most diverse Congress in history. This November, the presidency isn’t the only seat up for election: the newest members of the House are ready to win again. In honor of Black History Month (and to take a break from thinking about how to defeat Trump), here is a list of the amazing black politicians who made history two years ago ─ and are ready to do it again.
In 2018, Lucy McBath became the first Democrat to win Georgia’s 6th congressional district since 1993, winning by a 1 percent margin.
She has been a dedicated gun control advocate since her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012. She has worked with both Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, and has continued her activism in the House of Representatives. In addition to her experiences with gun violence, she is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and understands the importance of increasing access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.
After defeating incumbent Randy Hultgren (R) in 2018, Underwood became the youngest black woman elected to Congress, representing Illinois’ 14th district. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in nursing, and went on to receive two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Underwood worked at the Department of Health and Human Services, helping to implement the Affordable Care Act. As a congresswoman, some of her priorities include addressing the gun violence epidemic, expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, and investing in our public schools.
After defeating incumbent John Faso (R) in 2018, Delgado became the first person of African American or Hispanic descent to represent Upstate New York in Congress. He is representing New York’s 19th district, located in Eastern New York, mostly south of Albany.
Delgado was elected despite a series of racist attack ads put out by the Republican Faso’s campaign. These ads referenced rap songs he wrote a decade ago, calling Delgado a “big-city rapper” and taking the lyrics out of context to make him seem un-American. This attempt to alienate Delgado from his mostly-white district proved unsuccessful, as he ultimately defeated the incumbent in the 2018 midterm elections.
Before he was elected, he worked as an attorney after graduating from Harvard Law School. He also went to Colgate University, graduating with high honors and earning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. In 2019, he was recognized as one of the most active Freshmen in the House after he introduced eleven bills in the first half of that year.
Elected by Massachusetts 7th congressional district, Pressley is the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in Congress. Her district, made up of about three fourths of Boston, is “the most diverse and unequal” in the state, which is why her experiences have resonated with the people who elected her.
Since taking office, she has risen to fame as a member of “the squad,” four freshmen congresswomen who have been pushing for progressive policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Some of her other priorities include criminal justice, reproductive rights, and education.
The first African American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress, Hayes defeated Republican Manny Santos in an open-seat race, after Democrat Elizabeth Esty declined to run for re-election. Hayes and Ayanna Pressley are the first women of color elected to Congress from New England.
Hayes first gained attention when she was selected as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. As a public school teacher herself, she has travelled the country as an advocate for equal access to quality public education. In addition to education, her priorities as a congresswoman include access to quality, affordable healthcare, agriculture, and the environment.
These freshmen in the House of Representatives have been instrumental in the work Democrats have done these past two years, but there is much more to be done. In the midst of this historic presidential election, we can’t forget about the other crucial elections happening in November.
It is no secret that we need a better president ─ but we also need a Congress who will hold him or her accountable.
Abigail Simard is a Freshman from Farmington, Connecticut majoring in Creative Writing and English.