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These American Political Newcomers with African Roots Won Posts in their Cities

Oballa Oballa’s trek to Election Day was a long and improbable one. He grew up in the Gambella region of Ethiopia, where he witnessed mass killings that took the life of his uncle and hundreds of others. He survived a two-week trek across treacherous terrain to reach a refugee camp in Kenya. He spent 10 years in camps where he often didn’t have enough to eat. Now he has been elected to the City Council of his adopted hometown of Austin, Minnesota. He is the first refugee, first immigrant and first person of color to serve on the council. Esther Agbaje became the first Nigerian-American elected to the Minnesota legislature. Oye Owolewa is the first Nigerian-American elected to be Washington, D.C.’s shadow representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Liberian-American Naquetta Ricks of Aurora, Colorado, was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. And Omar Fateh, the son of Somali immigrants, was elected to Minnesota’s state Senate.