For the past several months, I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly incredible individuals, who continue to convince me of our limitless potential for compassion, community, and perseverance. Many results of the November 8th, 2016 election may dishearten us, but we shouldn’t forget the many victories we achieved along the way, or the victories we will achieve in the future!
And there are so many victories to remember! There are now more women of color than ever serving in the United States congress. In Minneapolis, Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the first Somali-American lawmaker in the US. In Georgia, our friend Sam Park made history by becoming the first openly gay man in the state General Assembly! And right here in District 58, over 22,000 people came out to show their support for us at the polls! Thank you so much to everyone who voted, who worked with us, who communicated with us to voice their concerns or offer their words of support. We can’t wait to continue the work and move forward with you.
There is still plenty to do, and we kept working both before and after Election Day. On November 1st, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of our campaign by visiting Brenau University’s Black Student Alliance, where we discussed Georgia state politics, the history of District 58, the challenges of gentrification, the movement for women’s healthcare and reproductive rights, and my own identity as a queer black woman. It was a fantastic conversation, which you can watch a video of here!
Later that same week, I attended the 2016 THEA Peach State Conference to partake in conversations about health and education for our transgendered, gender diverse, and gender non-conforming community members. I also visited GSU for a panel and viewing of “13th,” a powerful documentary about criminal justice reform. A big thanks to the Zoukis Collaborative and the GSU PoliSci department for having us there!
We kept the pre-election ballot initiatives discussions going, and discussed the “Safe Harbor” Amendment 2 at a panel hosted by the International Human Trafficking Institute and GA Tech’s One Voice, a program of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Just a few days before the election, we engaged in a community conversation with the Second Mount Vernon Baptist Church!
After the election, we got right back to work, attending the 2016 “Facing Race” Conference, put on by Race Forward, at the Hilton Hotel in District 58! Thank you so much to Race Forward for choosing our district as the host – and we can’t wait to keep engaging in these kinds of discussions. Now, more than ever, it’s time to talk about how we can best move race relations forward, especially in places like the South.
We took time on November 11th to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifices. We went to Hurt Park to see the Atlanta Army Cadets present the colors, and it reminded me of being back home on the Albany USMC Logistics Base as a child. I care deeply about respecting our veterans, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve continued my commitment to Fort McPherson and FB 1129.
I’m also very excited to kick off a series of public hearings that myself and members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus are hosting. Throughout these hearings, and communicating with community members, we seek to establish a statewide legislative agenda for better relations between communities and law enforcement. Problems like these require conversation, especially given the national crises of police-involved shootings and deaths in custody. Please follow our page to get updates on when the next hearings will be!
Finally, at the end of the month, I visited Washington, D.C. to attend a Women in Government Healthcare Summit to learn about the Zika Virus from medical professionals. Healthcare has always been a hugely important issue to me, and going and talking with these incredible women reminded me of the challenges we continue to face at every level. Still, and as everything I’ve mentioned here reflects, we still have so many successes and strengths to be thankful for!