People Involved in Public Service

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC

In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (1989–    ) ran an election campaign on a progressive platform with no corporate funding and was elected as a Democrat and the youngest woman ever to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York's 14th Congressional District. Often referred to by her initials AOC, her focus as an advocate for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice is to serve working class people rather than corporate interests.

Last modified: 17 August 2019

Ayanna Pressley, Ayanna Soyini Pressley

In 2018, when Ayanna Soyini Pressley (1974–    ), who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Chicago, Illinois, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusett's 7th Congressional District, she became the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her involvement in public service and politics began in 7th grade, when she was elected class president, a position she won every year until her graduation from the Francis W. Parker School, where she was commencement speaker.

Last modified: 5 August 2019

Barack Hussein Obama, II

Barack Hussein Obama, II (1961–    ), born in Honolulu, Hawaii, served as the 44th President of the United States for eight years (2009–2017). He was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. While in law school at Harvard University, he became the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review. After receiving his law degree, he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and began his work in public service, first as an Illinois state senator and then as a U.S. senator.

Last modified: 15 March 2019

Barbara Lee, Barbara Jean Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Jean Lee, born in El Paso, Texas, graduated from high school in San Fernando, California. She was first elected a Democrat from California's 13th (then 9th) district to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. She is a member of the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, where she serves on three subcommittees—State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.

Last modified: 18 March 2019

Benjamin Sterling Turner

Benjamin Sterling Turner (1825–1894), Republican from Alabama, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1872 through 1873. Born in South Weldon, North Carolina, this former slave was a self-made businessman who lost property during the Civil War. As the first African-American representative from Alabama following the Civil War, he focused on restoring peace and repairing economic damage to the South. He also promoted his black constituents as industrious members of the working community.

Last modified: 7 October 2019

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (1935–    ), born in Waco, Texas, was first elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas's 30th congressional district, in 1992. Every two years from that time to 2018, she was reelected to the Congress, where, in 2010, she was elected to become the first African American and the first woman ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Early in the 21st century, she was the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education.

Last modified: 22 March 2019

Eleanor Holmes Norton

In 2018, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937–    ), Democrat from Washington, D.C., won her fifteenth election as a non-voting delegate representing Washington, D.C., to the U.S. House of Representatives. In Congress, she is the ranking member of the House Committee on Highways and Transit, and she also serves on the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Last modified: 22 March 2019

Elijah Eugene Cummings

Congressman Elijah Eugene Cummings (1951–2019), born in Baltimore, Maryland, to working-class parents who had migrated from South Carolina, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, representing Maryland's 7th Congressional District. He previously served fourteen years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he became the first African American to be named as Speaker Pro Tem of that body.

Last modified: 25 October 2019

Gwen Moore, Gwendolynne Sophia Moore

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (1951–    ), born as Gwendolynne Sophia Moore in Racine, Wisconsin, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was first elected in 2004 to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat representing Wisconsin's 4th congressional district. She was the first African American from Wisconsin elected to the U.S. Congress. She is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and is the ranking member of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade.

Last modified: 30 January 2019

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