Rep. Frederica Wilson is making history as a prominent fixture in the Florida State Legislature and now U.S. Congress. In Florida, Wilson worked with former Gov. Jeb Bush to have the Confederate flag removed from the State Capitol and worked with former Gov. Charlie Crist to restore voting rights for ex-felons.
Alvin Brown, mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, assumed his position last July after winning by a mere 1,648 votes. By securing his position in the closest mayoral race in the city’s history, Brown became the first black mayor of Jacksonville and the first Democratic mayor of the city since Ed Austin in 1991.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll is used to standing out. The Trinidadian-American served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, working as an enlisted jet mechanic — a rarity for women at that time – and rising in rank to retire as a lieutenant commander aviation maintenance officer. In 2003, Carroll made her first foray into politics, winning a seat in Florida’s House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke is a Brooklyn native who has represented the 11th congressional district of New York since 2006. She is the youngest African American to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Ayanna Pressley is the first African American woman elected to the Boston City Council. She is known for her work on sexual education, women’s issues, job creation, and street violence. For Pressley, these issues are personal.
Cheryl Mills was on the legal team that successfully defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. While her arguments during the trial put her in the national spotlight, Mills has had a significant behind-the-scenes role in politics before and after the trial. Currently, Mills is the counselor and chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Kevin Lewis started out at the White House as a press assistant, traveling all over the country and the world with President Obama. He was promoted to White House director of African American media, replacing Corey Ealons, who left in 2010 to take a position as senior vice president for a public affairs and communications firm.
Patrick Gaspard is the executive director of the Democratic National Committee. Before that, Gaspard played a major role in helping President Barack Obama get elected; serving as director of Obama’s 2008 campaign. He also served as White House political director from 2009 to 2011.
Van Jones is an award-winning social entrepreneur. As an advisor to the Obama administration, Jones helped oversee the process of green economic recovery spending, and is an expert in promoting human rights and clean energy economics.
Imagine being in charge of the daily operations of the White House — everything from making sure the president and his family are comfortable in their private quarters, to ensuring state dinners and other official events run smoothly. The job description of White House chief usher can be daunting, but Angella Reid, the newest at the post, has the experience to take it head on.
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African-Americans have fought long and hard for political equality in America. During that time, many black leaders and activists have risen to the highest echelons of the political arena. These 10 African-Americans’ passion for politics has landed them a spot on this year’s theGrio’s 100 List.