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Rep. Frederica Wilson
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Throughout her life, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson has been a voice for the voiceless. As an elementary school principal, she stood up for the health of her students by opposing the construction of an environmentally dangerous waste facility being built across the street from her school. She won the fight, forcing the Miami-Dade County Commission to close the plant. As a community leader, she stood up for the fair treatment of Haitian women refugees who were incarcerated with no privacy in a local detention center. In 1984, she tirelessly and successfully lobbied Congress for their release. To this day, she remains close friends with all of the women.

Congresswoman Wilson’s lifelong desire for standing up for our most vulnerable populations is rooted in her faith, family, and passion for public service. Ms. Wilson was born on November 5, 1942 in Miami’s Overtown community, but was raised in nearby Liberty City. The daughter of Beulah Finley and Thirlee Smith, a small business owner and local civil rights activist, she learned the value of community activism from a young age. Her parents always taught her to care for the downtrodden and to share with the less fortunate and were one of the first African American homeowners in Miami-Dade County. Her brother, the late Thirlee Smith, Jr., rose to become the first full-time African American reporter at the Miami Herald.

Congresswoman Wilson earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Fisk University in 1963, and her Master of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Miami in 1972. She served as a teacher and as assistant educational coordinator for Head Start in Miami. For a short time, Ms. Wilson left the working world to raise her three children, but the calling of education proved too strong. She returned to serve as the assistant principal of Skyway Elementary School, later becoming the school’s principal. In 1992, the school was honored by Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander as part of President George H.W. Bush’s “America 2000” plan to upgrade national education standards. From 1992 to 1998, Ms. Wilson served on the Miami-Dade County School Board, where she helped introduce an African American history component into the teaching curriculum.

In 1998, Congresswoman Wilson successfully ran for a seat in the Florida State House of Representatives, where she served as Minority Whip for four years until 2002. From 2002 to 2010, she served in the Florida State Senate, where she served as Minority Leader Pro Tempore and as Minority Lead Whip. She soon became known as the “Conscience of the Senate” for her willingness to tackle historically ignored issues. Her achievements include working with Republican Governor Jeb Bush to remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol, mandating HIV/AIDS testing for newly-released prisoners, opposing high-stakes standardized testing, pushing for a ban of the term “illegal alien” in state public records, and partnering with Republican Governor Charlie Crist to restore voting rights for ex-felons. She has a long history of working with her colleagues across the aisle to pass bipartisan solutions.

Congresswoman Wilson has been heralded by such diverse groups as the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, the American Cancer Society, Florida Cable Telecommunications Association, NAACP, and her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she served as the Director of the South Atlantic Region for four years and as Director of AKA Connections, the political action arm, for six years. She is also a 25 year member of the prestigious LINKS, Inc.

Congresswoman Wilson remains an educator and principal at heart. She strongly believes we must rededicate ourselves to our children through a renewed focused on education. It is her deep belief in the promise and potential of our youth that motivates her each and every day.

As a School Board member, Ms. Wilson saw the necessity for a program to intervene in the lives of at-risk male youth at an early age. To this end, she founded the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which has grown into a national model for dropout prevention programs. The program, run through the Miami-Dade Public Schools system, has awarded more than $5 million in scholarships to minority boys since its creation in 1992 and helped thousands of young men turn their lives around. The program currently operates in over 110 Miami-Dade County public schools, serving more than 6000 youth. Wilson also established a Role Models chapter in the Pinellas County School District. In 1997, the program was honored with the Teaching Example for the Nation Award by President Bill Clinton at the Summit for America’s Future in Philadelphia, PA.

Congresswoman Wilson remains an influential force for the South Florida community. At her consecration ceremony at the Historic St. Agnes’ Episcopal Church in January 2011, more than 2,000 members of the community attended to bless the beginning of her time in federal office.

In Congress, she serves on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Congresswoman Wilson is widowed and is the proud mother of three children, Nicole, Kesha, and Paul, and five beautiful grandchildren.

Entries by Rep. Frederica Wilson

Student Borrowers Need a Bill of Rights

(10) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 11:27 AM

What's a more useful investment to make with borrowed money: a college education or a binge at the casino?

While the answer -- a college education -- should be evident to everybody, our legal system continues to penalize students and graduates by denying them basic consumer protections available for...

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From War on Poverty to War on Working Poor

(5) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 11:09 AM

This week marks two anniversaries. It's not only the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of the War on Poverty but also the 1,100th consecutive day of the Republican House of Representatives' refusal to vote on a single serious piece of jobs legislation.

These two anniversaries are a study...

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An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner: Let's Solve Flood Insurance Crisis

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 12:43 PM

Dear Mr. Speaker:

This year, coastal communities are facing a perfect storm: They're not only weathering a tough economy but also a wave of unprecedented flood insurance rate increases.

While Congress' 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act was supposed to deal with funding gaps and still ensure homeowners' access to affordable...

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The Full Employment Generation

(39) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 9:01 AM

As veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, we can vividly remember a time when people of conscience from all over the country stood together with a common voice to fight for a common cause.

Sadly, in the decades since the 1960s, there's been no similarly-encompassing movement for social change....

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The Mantra of This Congress Should Be: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

(104) Comments | Posted October 16, 2013 | 10:11 PM

Unemployment is still the crisis of our time. Yet Congress has had to put the issue on the back-burner because of the endless shenanigans of a small group of lawmakers.

As a member of the 113th Congress, I can thankfully tell you that the Republican Party is starting the...

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Ted Cruz: Obamacare Champion

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2013 | 4:41 PM

I would like to thank Sen. Ted Cruz.

Without his impassioned all-night rant on the Senate floor, fewer Americans would have access to healthcare today.

Seriously.

While only the right-wing fringe agreed with the extremist rhetoric in the Texas senator's anti-Obamacare faux-filibuster, all the media buzz about his antics served...

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1,000 Days of Pain

(16) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 4:28 PM

This week marks the 1,000th day of John Boehner's speakership in the United States House of Representatives.

It also marks the 1,000th consecutive day without a vote on a single serious piece of legislation to address the nation's continuing unemployment crisis.

I know because I arrived in Congress...

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The Food Stamp Fight: Partisan Politics vs. People's Right to Survive

(358) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 8:12 AM

With millions of Americans out of work and millions more working for minimum wage, it's no secret that there's a hunger crisis in America. I've met seniors in my own community who buy 18-cent cans of dog food to mix with rice. I know people who go into dumpsters to...

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Raising the Minimum Wage: Good Ethics and Good Economics

(115) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:52 PM

This week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of a March on Washington that was as much about economic justice as political freedom. And over this long weekend, we observe the only national holiday that's all about honoring the American worker.

But this week is about much more than symbolism. It's...

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The American Jobs Act Still Deserves a Vote

(255) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 9:11 AM

This summer -- as Congress debates border security, Benghazi, the IRS, the NSA, the Justice Department, and further deficit reduction -- one issue is conspicuously absent from the agenda: What about our jobs crisis?

Nearly 12 million Americans remain unemployed. Millions more are underemployed or have given up...

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What Could We Have Bought Instead of a $3 Trillion War?

(22) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 7:51 PM

As we mark the10th anniversary of a deeply painful war, we find our nation again in difficult circumstances. More than 12 million Americans are out of work. People continue losing their homes and healthcare. Our nation's liabilities -- including creaking infrastructure, billowing pollution, and inadequate education -- continue...

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Stand in Solidarity With the Women of Haiti

(9) Comments | Posted February 6, 2013 | 8:36 AM

Take a moment to imagine life in constant fear of sexual violence.

Imagine trying to survive without police protection, without adequate housing, without the ability to petition the courts for justice. Contemplate life without access to medical care to meet your basic physical needs following an assault -- let...

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Disaster Recovery: We're All in It Together

(5) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 3:55 PM

Flooded subway stations in New York City. Earthquake damage in the Nation's Capital. The great American city of New Orleans submerged under water.

These scenes, once seemingly out of science fiction, are all too real to Americans today. Natural disasters threaten all Americans -- urban and rural, East and...

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Focusing on Foster Care

(3) Comments | Posted March 28, 2012 | 2:28 PM

Far too often, attention is only given to the failures of the foster care system. As necessary as this may be, only through greater awareness of both the system's failures and accomplishments can we better serve our children in need.

On March 30th, a delegation of Members of Congress...

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Keeping Hope Alive in Haiti's Tent Cities

(23) Comments | Posted May 17, 2011 | 3:56 PM

On the afternoon of April 28, a black cloud rumbled over Haiti and unleashed violent winds and torrents of rain that tore through an already ravaged landscape, setting off a wave of panic. Debris flew through the air, canals and streams overflowed and for a brief, agonizing moment it appeared...

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