Jamaal Bowman‘s historic primary victory over a longtime New York Congressman all but guarantees that there will be another Black U.S. representative on Capitol Hill next year, and the upstart politician rejoiced about that fact after the election’s results were confirmed on Friday afternoon.
After beating Rep. Eliot Engel — the chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee who has represented New York’s 16th District in Congress for 31 years over the course of 16 terms — Bowman becomes the Democratic nominee for a public office that no Republican has won since 1945, all but guaranteeing his general election win this coming November.
Bowman, 44, worked in public school education for 20 years before, decided to run for Congress because, as he told the Washington Post, “S— was f—ed up! I mean, I’m a principal on the Bronx side of the district for 10 years. I’ve got families losing their homes, parents that have been killed, kids self-mutilating because of mental distress, kids being admitted into mental institutions.”
He continued: “No one’s talking about the connection between trauma and poverty and bad policy, in the Bronx, in Yonkers, wherever black and brown people are. That is unacceptable. And it’s been like that my entire life.”
So he decided he could do a better job than Engel, ran against him and won.
Bowman shared his excitement about the win in an email to the press on Friday:
“I’m a Black man who was raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress. But today, that 11-year old boy who was beaten by police is about to be your next Representative.
“From the very beginning, we anchored our campaign in the fight for racial and economic justice. We spoke the truth — about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality — and it resonated in every part of the district.
“We brought people together across race, across class, across religion, across gender, to fight for justice, to fight for equality, and to fight to create a country that works for all of us. We didn’t let them divide us. And we did it all without accepting a dime from corporate PACs or lobbyists.
“The world has changed. Congress needs to change too. But if we can take on entrenched power and wealthy interests here in Westchester and the Bronx, then we can do it all across this country.
“I’m ready to get to work. I cannot wait to get to Washington and cause problems for the people maintaining the status quo.”
As of Friday, there were 54 Black members serving in Congress. But with the primary victories of not just Bowman but also Mondaire Jones, who on Tuesday won the primary for heavily Democratic New York’s 17th Congressional District, that number is now expected to grow.