BLACK VOICES
02/13/2017 01:55 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2017

7 Barrier-Breaking Black Politicians We Are Rooting For

Representation for the win.

Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost Photos: Facebook/Getty Images
These seven politicians are paving the way for a better future. 

This February, HuffPost Black Voices is honoring black men and women who are paving the way to a better future for black America. We are highlighting the work of deserving individuals who are striving to make the world a more inclusive place across their respective fields.

This week, we’re featuring some of the most exceptional black men and women in politics.

From a barrier-breaking congresswoman to a record-shattering mayor, these politicians are using their smarts to strengthen the voices of black Americans. 

Here are seven politicians we believe have been making noteworthy political strides. 

1. U.S. Representative Maxine Waters 

Chelsea Lauren via Getty Images
Waters' disposition is quite reminiscent of that of 'auntie.'

Maxine Waters has been representing California in the U.S. Congress for 26 years, but her candor attracted nationwide attention (and reverence) late last year ― most memorably when she walked out of a press conference on FBI Director James Comey. 

Aside from her admirable honesty, Waters has worked to amplify the voices of black Californians. During her time as a California State Assemblywoman in the 1980s, she co-founded Project Build, which provides job training and placement for Los Angeles residents living in housing projects. As a congresswoman, Waters has played a vital role in the passing of affirmative action policies and the establishment of California’s first statewide Child Abuse Prevention Training Program

2. Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs

Cindy Ord via Getty Images
Tubbs was just 26 years old when he was elected to become Stockton's first black mayor. 

Michael Tubbs became Stockton, California’s first black (and youngest) mayor in January, so the true extent of his political accomplishments can most notably be seen during his time as a city councilman. 

In that role, Tubbs devoted himself to the plights of the city’s children by helping to develop the Boys and Men of Color Alliance and a Black Community Crusade for Children in Stockton. With such a track record, and that he received an endorsement from former President Barack Obama himself during his mayoral bid, we can’t to see what Tubbs will accomplish next. 

3. Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar 

STEPHEN MATUREN via Getty Images
Ilhan Omar only spoke Somali when she came to the U.S. in 1995. She eventually grasped the language so well that she was able to translate for her grandfather during political gatherings. 

Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the nation’s first Somali-American female legislator when she was elected to Minnesota’s House of Representatives in November 2016.

Omar, who came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old after spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp, was a director of policy for the Women Organizing Women Network prior to entering her role as a Minnesota congresswoman.

4. U.S. Senator Cory Booker

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
As mayor of Newark, Booker took an unorthodox route to staying connected with his city's residents by living in one of its worst housing projects for eight years according to The New York Times

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is one of only 10 black Americans to have ever served in the Senate. The former Newark, New Jersey mayor has been a staunch advocate of criminal justice reform and boldly testified against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

Although widely scrutinized for some of his political decisions, media outlets have declared Booker a presidential potential for 2020, though Booker told CNN a presidential campaign isn’t on his agenda.

5. U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke

Astrid Stawiarz via Getty Images
Clarke represents New York's 9th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke established the Congressional Caucus on Multicultural Media and also co-founded the Black Women and Girls Caucus.

The Brooklyn native’s Twitter page is not only demonstrative of her support for the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements, but her plans to mobilize resistance against the Trump administration. She even pledged to keep Brooklyn a “sanctuary city” during her swearing-in ceremony in January.

6. Michigan State Representative Jewell Jones

Jewell Jones/Facebook
Jones was just 20 years old when he first made history as the youngest person to sit on Inkster, Michigan's city council. 

Jewell Jones became the youngest person to serve on Inkster, Michigan’s city council in 2015 at just 20 years old. Now, after a successful congressional bid in in the 2016 election, Jones, who joined ROTC when he began attending University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2013, is the youngest person to serve in Michigan’s House of Representatives

7. Georgia State Representative Park Cannon

Park Cannon/Facebook
In her first month in office, Cannon spoke out against Georgia's religious freedom bill that would have allowed for LGBT discrimination in the state.

When former Georgia state representative Simone Bell knew she’d be leaving her congressional seat for another position, she called Atlanta native Park Cannon. 

At just 24 years old, Cannon became Georgia’s youngest legislator last February. One of three openly queer women to serve in the state’s legislature, Cannon wants to use her platform to prevent LGBT discrimination in addition to helping to secure better jobs and expand Medicaid. 

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