TheGrio's 100: Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, a 'voice for the voiceless'

theGRIO's 100 - Rep. Frederica Wilson has made a great name for herself as she represents the 17th congressional district of Florida...

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.

What’s next for Frederica?

Wilson serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she pays special attention to the U.S. role in the Caribbean. She is also working to increase school funding for science, math, technology and energy.

A little-known fact…

Wilson is known for her extensive collection of hats, many of them are brightly colored and embellished with sequins.

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Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: To make sure that the people in the U.S. understand that there is a distinct group of children in America whose immediate needs must be addressed separately and succinctly, tailored just for them – and that is African-American boys. Until we can reach that plateau, education, health care and criminal justice will remain in a dilemma with high cost and overburdensome loss of human spirit. This includes mentorship due to the absence of fathers, teaching them to read by 3rd grade, about the value of education and to respect the law.

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: That I’ve taken into my home so many wayward black boys, and my family and I raised them from boyhood to manhood and sent them to college. I am proud of each of them as though they were my own children.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: “It takes an entire village to raise a child.” – African proverb – but I say, “It takes an entire village to educate one child.”

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: From the children in the 5000 Role Models of Excellence project that I founded 20 years ago. They prosper in spite of many barriers that they have to overcome every day. With the help of God, we continue to miraculously save thousands of black boys.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: My 8th grade homeroom teacher, Dr. Earl Wells, who eventually became assistant superintendent of schools in Miami; and my priest, Father Richard Barry, of the St. Agnes Episcopal Church, and the late Father Lambert Sands of the same church; and finally, Miss M. Athalee Range, a former Miami city commissioner.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: That you don’t have to be rich and famous to make it in life. Stay on course and don’t let anyone deter you.