Ilhan Omar, American politician, is the first Somali-American Member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress. This makes her the highest-elected Somali-American public official in the United States. Representative Omar was sworn into office in January 2019 for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district.
Born in Somalia, Rep. Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was just eight years old. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in 1995 when her family secured asylum. Her early years were filled with devastation and loss. Rather then allowing these experiences to beat her down, she utilized them to motivate her to make the world a more just place for others.
It was Omar’s grandfather that inspired and encouraged her to get involved in politics. Prior to running for office, Omar worked as a community educator and organizer, policy analyst, public speaker and advocate. In 2016 she was elected as the Minnesota House Representative for District 60B where she served until 2018. It is important to note that Omar received the largest percentage of votes for any female candidate running for U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota state’s history.
Omar’s presence in politics has upset the status quo because she is a Black female Muslim immigrant. As a result, she has been the target of ongoing harassment and threats of extreme violence. However, Omar remains committed to her principles to fight for the rights of citizens and ensure equality for all Americans.
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