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After Primary Win, Ilhan Omar Is On Track To Become The First Somali-American Member Of Congress

Ilhan Omar, a candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
By Paula Rogo · August 19, 2018

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born ex-refugee, is currently on track to become the first Somali-American and female Muslim member of the U.S House of Representatives. 

The 35-year-old lawmaker won the Democratic primary in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District this week. She could replace U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who decided to run for state attorney general.

Moreover, she may enter the House with another Muslim woman, Rashida Tlaib, who won a Democratic primary in Michigan.

Omar said she thinks Americans should be excited about this “because it is a direct response to the politics of fear and scarcity that the president and his administration push,” she told CBS Minnesota.

In 2016, she became the first Somali-American ever elected to the state house, the same year that President Donald Trump won the presidency.

“I think my job now is to instill hope in people so that they have the strength to continue to resist and to continue to believe that there is an opportunity for us, for the first time, to really talk about the kind of nation we should be and the kind of nation that we deserve,” she said.

This election cycle has seen a historic number of black women running for office around the country. In Alabama, for example, more Black women than ever are running for political office following the surprise win of Democratic Senator Doug Jones in the deeply Conservative state. Black women played a significant role in securing his win.

Earlier this year, author and activist Luvvie Ajayi, worked to create a full listing of all the Black women running for office in 2018. You can check out the full list of 603 candidates here.

Read more about Omar’s journey here.