Close to forty percent of the US population currently belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. These minority groups include American Indians or Alaska native, Asian Americans, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander according to US Census.
Close to fifteen percent of the total population of US are born outside the country. Immigrants have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the country, exceling in different areas of human endeavors. Some are playing active roles in the political circle. Here, we will be looking at the inspiring stories of some of the minorities and foreign-born Americans who are currently making a difference in public office.
- Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver
Sheila Oliver is serving as the second and current lieutenant governor of New Jersey. Her victory with Governor Phil Murphy at the polls made her New Jersey State’s first Black lieutenant governor. She is also the first African American Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly for two terms.
- Mayor Wilmot Collins
Mayor Wilmot Collins left Liberia at the age of 31 as a refugee of the civil war. He worked at Child Protection Services before he was inspired by a message from President Barack Obama. His message reportedly urged Americans to stop complaining and get involved in the political process. Mayor Collins later defeated an incumbent mayor who was in office for sixteen years to become the city of Helena and Montana’s first Black Mayor.
- Rep. Kathy Tran
Rep. Kathy Tran is among the first Asian American women elected to the USA state of Virginia’s House of Delegates in November 2017. She came in to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1980 at the age of two. Prior to joining politics, she worked with the US Department of Labor for twelve years.
- Rep. Ilham Omar
Rep. Ilham Omar is the first Somali-American Muslim legislator elected to a state legislature in the United States of America. She was elected in 2016 to represent District 60B at the Minnesota House of Representatives. She came to the United States at 12 years old with her family as refugees in 1995. She defeated a 22-term incumbent. She worked as a community nutrition educator with University of Minnesota before venturing into politics.
- Pious Ali
Pious Ali became the first African-born Muslim elected to Portland’s City Council in 2016 earning 63 percent of the total votes to defeat the incumbent. Ali, who emigrated from Ghana in 2000, worked as a community outreach specialist before joining politics. His term expires in 2019.
- Mazahir Salih.
Mazahir Salih is the first Sudanese American to hold public office in the Iowa City Council. She graduated with a degree in civil engineering from a Sudanese university. Like many immigrants, she had to start over again as a low-wage worker in the United States before acquiring another degree. She has served as a community organizer, founding the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa before elected in November 2017.
- Mayor Ravi Bhalla
Mayor Ravi Bhalla made history when he became the first Sikh Mayor of Hoboken city and New Jersey State. Bhalla is a 43-year-old Indian-American, his victory was significant in the sense that he was branded a terrorist a few days to the election.
- Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax was elected in November 2018 to become the second African-American candidate to win his current post in Virginia. Thirty-eight-year-old Fairfax defeated Republican nominee state senator Jill Vogel. Prior to joining politics, he worked as a defense attorney with the firm Venable LLP and a former federal prosecutor. He grew up in a single-parent household in Washington, D.C. before attending college at Duke University and Columbia Law School.
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Guzman
Elizabeth Guzman was born in Peru, but later immigrated to the United States of America in search of greener pasture. She worked three jobs in order to afford an apartment for her and her daughter. She later went to college where she acquired a bachelor and two master’s degrees. She worked as a social worker and public administrator. She was elected to represent the 31st District House of Delegates in Virginia. She was among the first Hispanic women elected to the post.
All these victories are pointer to the fact that America is a welcoming country which gives all people the opportunities to develop their potential and contribute immensely to the development of their respective communities.