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6 Women of Color Who Campaigned for Congress on Inequality and Won

These trailblazers often drew from their own personal stories to connect with and win over the hearts of voters. Each is heading to Washington to advance a bold social and economic justice agenda, with a strong focus on reversing inequality.

Minnesota Democratic Congressional-elect Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on November 6, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar won the race for Minnesota's 5th congressional district seat against Republican candidate Jennifer Zielinski to become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Democratic Party has regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and with this shift will come a new cadre of forceful female leaders committed to narrowing the gaps that so divide us.

"In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources but the absence of political courage and moral imagination."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

The six victorious candidates profiled here are remarkable in many ways. All women of color, these trailblazers often drew from their own personal stories to connect with and win over the hearts of voters. Each is heading to Washington to advance a bold social and economic justice agenda, with a strong focus on reversing inequality.

Deb Haaland, of New Mexico’s 1st District, will become one of the first two native American women in Congress (along with Sharice Davids, who won a seat in the Kansas delegation). Halland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and a former head of the New Mexico Democratic Party.

On the campaign trail, Haaland didn’t mince words about the economic unfairness she sees in the country: “America isn’t broke, but we have been pillaged by billionaires and big corporations who get rich off our infrastructure and expect working people to foot the bill. No more.”

To get those billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share, Haaland goes far beyond calling for the repeal of the Trump-Republican tax reform. She’d like to see taxes on individual income and corporate profits rise back to post-World War II levels. She also calls for the introduction of a small tax on financial market transactions and a more robust estate tax.

Haaland will also be a powerful voice in Washington against Trump’s hateful immigration policies. On the government’s separation of immigrant families, Haaland draws from her own family’s experience. Her grandmother was forced into an “assimilation” boarding school when she was eight years old.

Ilhan Omar will become the first Somali American woman in Congress, taking the Minnesota District 5 seat vacated by Keith Ellison when he decided to run (successfully) for Minnesota Attorney General.

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Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project of the Institute for Policy Studies, and is a co-editor of Inequality.org. @Anderson_IPS

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