TheGrio's 100: Rep. Yvette Clarke, working on Capitol Hill for a better future for her district

theGRIO's 100 - Rep. Yvette Clarke is a Brooklyn native and the youngest African American to serve in the U.S. Congress...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke is a Brooklyn native who has represented the 11th congressional district of New York since 2007. She is the youngest African-American to serve in the U.S. Congress.

The Jamaican American attended public school in New York and received a scholarship to Oberlin College. She also received the renowned APPAH/Sloan Fellowship in Public Policy and Policy Analysis.

Before becoming a member of Congress, Clarke was elected to the New York City Council and represented the 40th District in Brooklyn. She made history when she succeeded her mother, former City Councilor Una S. T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the council’s history.

Clarke’s political accomplishments include securing millions of dollars in federal funds for her district to support institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Yvette Clarke is making history as… a politician dedicated to serving her district and its constituents. Clarke’s lifelong career in politics has been at the local and federal level, and her support for her community has never wavered.

What’s next for Clarke?

Clarke is a member of the Homeland Security Committee and the Small Business Committee in the House of Representatives, working on national safety and economic development issues.

A little-known fact…

There are 90 women currently serving in Congress. Thirteen of the women are African American, and two others are non-voting delegates representing the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

For more information on Congresswoman Clarke, click here.

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

A: I can’t say specifics, but I know that I have not exhausted my enthusiasm for my service. Therefore, in the immediate time, I plan to continue to represent the 11th Congressional District of New York. Certainly, I will be looking for every opportunity to be of service to the people either representing through legislation in the House of Representatives, or through my vocal advocacy on behalf of the issues and causes that impact their daily lives.

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

A: I am left handed.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: I think that it’s a combination of things. It’s definitely my home and my immediate family, my parents, my brother, and the way in which I was raised with an activist household. I also think it my commitment to our neighbors and our extensive community.

I was one of the few people who could boldly claim that they were raised in a village that raised a child. All of that has inspired me to be the very best representative in the House of Representatives that I can be. What greater honor is [there] than to represent the community that you were born and raised in, in the House of Representatives!

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: One was my mom. She preceded me as a an elected officiall in the New York City Council, I also had my pediatrician Dr. Thomas – the first black professional I saw outside of my home (at one point I thought I would be a pediatrician.) I had a lot of former employers who were women, including [New York] State Senator Deelman Montgomery, Barbara Clark, Barbara Patton, and Cheryl Chisholm. I was employed by an assemblywoman and her name was Barbara Clark, and the chairman of the State Workers Compensation Ward, Barbara Patton. I also admired Shirley Chisholm, because I believe that I represent the things that she represented. She was the first black woman in Congress, who made it possible for me.

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

A: Stay focused on the dream. Don’t pay attention to those who would discredit or throw cold water on your aspirations. Stay focused on accomplishing your goals and to look for other individuals who are eager and just as ambitious, or who have accomplished what you are trying to accomplish. Reach out to them through social networking and use what they have done as a source of motivation for yourself.