Ilhan Omar has already made history. After growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp and later immigrating to the U.S., Omar became the first Somali-American to serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Now, she’s hoping to etch her name in the history books once again, only this time as the first Somali-American member of Congress.
Last week, Omar officially filed the paperwork to become the next representative for Minnesota’s 5th district, a seat currently held by Congressman Keith Ellison.
Ellison, who became the first Muslim person elected to Congress in 2008, is leaving the House of Representatives to run to become Minnesota’s next Attorney General, and Omar hopes to continue his legacy of progressive leadership.
“We have hard fights ahead and I look forward to fighting alongside the residents of District 5,” she wrote on Twitter.
In a statement announcing her Congressional run, Omar talked about her roots as a refugee-turned-politician and committed to fighting for progressive values like criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and economic equality.
“I came to this Country as a refugee, fleeing war and starvation, seeking a new home and freedom in the form of democracy. I fell in love with politics as a young girl living in Cedar-Riverside. Fifteen years later, my community asked me to serve. And alongside them, we ran a historic campaign, increasing turnout among young people, people of color, and bringing new voters into the DFL party,” Omar said.
“A voice like mine has never been heard in Washington D.C.,” she continued. “As your next Congresswoman, I will fight for criminal justice and policing reform; affordable and accessible education and housing; healthcare for all; environmental justice; and racial, economic, and social equity. As both an organizer and a legislator, I have been pushing back against the profusion of bigotry and hate sweeping our nation, and I am ready to bring that fight to Capitol Hill.”
Omar, who has been endorsed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, is just one of hundreds of Black women running for office this year. If elected, she’ll not only be the first Somali-American in Congress, but she’ll also become the first Muslim woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.