Democrat Jennifer McClellan has made history to become the first Black elected congresswoman from Virginia after defeating Republican Leon Benjamin in the 4th Congressional District for a vacant Richmond-based congressional district that spans over 15 cities and counties.
“It still blows my mind that we’re having firsts in 2023. My ancestors fought really hard to have a seat at that table, and now not only will I have a seat at the table in Congress; I’ll be able to bring that policymaking table into communities that never really had a voice before.”
When he won the primary in December, she described the lack of Black female representation in congress was on account of “an imagination gap that only saw certain types of people as members of Congress. Part of it is that Black women tended to get involved in politics later in life. But it’s past time that we have one.”
McClellan, a corporate attorney for Verizon, has spent 10 years in Virginia’s House of Delegates and succeeded McEachin in the state Senate when he was elected to Congress in 2016. She is the vice chair of Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
“I spent 14 years in the minority party in the Virginia Legislature and still was able to get over 300 bills passed,” she said in an interview after her primary win. “I think it’s a natural progression of the work that I have been doing already.”