Last Tuesday, the nation watched as Donald Trump claimed victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. We may not have our first female president just yet, but another woman in Minnesota did make history that night. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, former refugee and mother of three, won a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, claiming House District 60B in southeast Minneapolis with 80 percent of the vote. With that victory, Omar has become the first Somali-American lawmaker in the United States
Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia, and fled the Somalian civil war with her family to spend four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. She arrived in the United States in 1995, and while improving her English began to translate for her grandfather at political events in the Twin Cities.
In her victory speech, Omar thanked her grandfather, her father, and her supporters. “Our campaign has been about more than just uniting a district, more than winning back the House, more than making history,” Omar said. “Our campaign has been about shifting narratives, restoring hope and re-establishing access in our democracy.”
Her agenda included a focus on justice and the common-good, zero waste, and renewable energy.
“And we will never stop fighting for a democracy that works for all of us, for a prosperous and equitable Minnesota that we will all be proud of,” she said. “I will never give up fighting for you, and I hope you will never give up fighting for me.”
Mohamed Omar Giama, a 90-year-old former Somali ambassador to the European Commission expressed his joy over Omar’s victory.
“I never thought a Somali lady, a refugee, can get through all this hardship and difficulties to get elected to Minnesota parliament,” said Giama, who attended her victory party. “It’s wonderful,” he said, “just wonderful.”