High school teacher applauded by Obama could become first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress
The 2016 National Teacher of the Year could become the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Congress.
Jahana Hayes, a high school teacher from Waterbury and a Democrat, is vying for the U.S. House seat representing Connecticut’s 5th District. She will be part of the tense midterm Congressional elections in which Democrats are hoping to gain more traction politically. U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., now represents that district but she will not seek reelection.
Hayes’ campaign video details a life in which she overcame hurdles and a classic American success story.
I’m really proud to share our brand-new campaign video.
Teachers are nation-builders. That’s our job — to affect change, and to improve outcomes. But that’s the job of Congress, too. So I’m running for Congress.
— Jahana Hayes for Congress (@JahanaHayesCT) July 12, 2018
Hayes who grew up in Connecticut’s Berkeley Heights public housing project in Waterbury was raised by her grandmother while her own mother struggled with drug addiction.
Hayes who became pregnant at 17, went on to raise her daughter, earn a master’s degree and teach at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, according to CNN.
“This is my home, where people are strong, but they aren’t supposed to run for Congress,” Hayes says in the video over images of public housing.
Hayes will face off with Mary Glassman in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary before the general election in November.
In her video, Hayes says, “If Congress starts to look like us, no one can stop us.”
She adds, “This is our moment to act, to organize and bring our truth to power.”
Hayes told Education Week that thoughts of her students motivated her to run for office.
“Teachers are nation builders,” she said. “That’s our job: To effect change, to improve outcomes. Isn’t that the same job of Congress?”
According to Education Week, Hayes is one of the dozens of teachers across the country who have launched bids to run for office as teacher strikes and protests take hold across the country. Hayes also is part of a record 309 women running for House seats this year – and most of those bids are from Democratic women, according to the news organization.