History was made in Pennsylvania yesterday. First, Representative-elect Helen Tai won a special election for Pennsylvania House District 178, which has been Republican since 1983, flipping the district from red to blue. This is an area Trump won by a three-point margin in 2016.
However, the most notable win belonged to North Philadelphia native Malcolm Kenyatta. The 27-year-old Democrat ran in the primary for Philadelphia’s 181st District and won.
“As I said to my team and supporters last night, this was a victory for all those who believe we should raise wages, send our kids to fully funded schools, and keep seniors in their homes,” Kenyatta exclusively told NewsOne. “I’m grateful to North Philly for this resounding and historic win. I’m ready to get to work.”
Kenyatta’s victory stood out for a number of reasons.
He appeared to be the only Black candidate of note to win Tuesday out of four states holding their own primary contests. In addition, “He is the first openly gay candidate of color to win a state house primary in Pennsylvania,” PhillyMag.com reported.
In November’s general election, Kenyatta will be up against Republican T. Milton Street. That said, Philadelphia is a predominately Democratic area, so it has typically been difficult for a Republican to win.
Politics is in Kenyatta’s soul. He is the grandson of Muhammad Kenyatta, a civil rights leader, minister and local politician who ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 1975.
“Malcolm got his first start in community activism at the young age of 11 when he ran for junior block captain,” According to Malcolmforpa.com, his campaign website.
He previously worked for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and served on the boards of Equality Pennsylvania, Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club and the Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for Women. He was also awarded the Volunteer Service Award by President Barack Obama in 2016.
A graduate of Temple University, he was elected as a delegate for Hillary Clinton to the 2016 Democratic National Convention with just under 82,000 votes, the second highest vote total of any delegate in Pennsylvania. Kenyatta was even featured in one of Clinton’s 2016 campaign ads. See below:
If Kenyatta’s grassroots campaign continues to be successful, the native son of North Philadelphia will be part of what is expected to be a wave of history-making wins in November.