One of the nation’s most celebrated teachers joined the lineup of impressive Black female candidates running for political office in the 2018.
Jahana Hayes, who earned the prestigious National Teacher of the Year award in 2016, posted a campaign video online July 12 that explained why she’s running for Congress.
“Who will speak for them?” Hayes recalled asking herself one day while looking at her students. That’s when Hayes, who has never held public office, decided to accept the challenge.
The Connecticut native is undaunted by the road ahead. Hayes has shown a determination to succeed in life that indicates she’s up for the challenge of running for office. She grew up in a low-income community, infested with drugs and violence. When she became pregnant at 17, Hayes’ teachers encouraged her to complete high school. Not only did she graduate from high school, she continued to college and achieved her dream of becoming a teacher in the community where she grew up.
Hayes is running as a Democrat for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, which will be vacated by Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty. She will face off against Mary Glassman in the August 14 primary. If elected to congress, Hayes would be the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. Connecticut has sent only one other African-American to Congress: Republican Gary Franks, who served from 1991 to 1997 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
So far, Black women have done impressively well in the 2018 primary season. Among the notable victories, Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary for governor of Georgia, becoming the first Black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States. And in San Francisco, London Breed beat several rivals to become the city’s first Black female mayor.
Alabama has also been in the spotlight because about 36 Black women ran for various offices in 2018, ranging from state board of education to public service commissioner to U.S. House of Representative.
“If Congress starts to look like us, no one can stop us,” Hayes said in her video.