Women of Influence: U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell

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In the second installment of Alabama Women of Influence is Alabama’s second female congressional representative to be elected in a regular election and Alabama’s first black woman to serve in our congressional delegation – U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell.

We could spend an entire day, and then some, talking about the accomplishments and friends of Terri. But before we do that it is important to take a step back together …

Selma, Ala., in January 1965,  Sewell was born into the prelude of the historic Selma March, a day before Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Selma. She did not allow the stigma of society to get in her way – becoming the first black valedictorian of her high school and going on to study at Princeton University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, and later landing a job on Wall Street. During her journey to Congress she was friends with the future first lady, then Michelle Robinson, at Princeton, was later a Harvard classmate of Barack Obama, and was even an intern for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who  then was a House Democrat.

Terri Sewell became Congresswoman Sewell in January 2011 when she took her oath of office administered by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Following in her mother’s footsteps — she was the first black woman elected to the city council — Terri is a woman who made her own road. Creating a road that women all over Alabama can be proud to follow on and make their own ways from.

Since taking her oath to be a member of Congress, Sewell has taken a strong stand on civil rights. Although the march was 50 years ago, there is still a lot of education to be done and Sewell is doing just that. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 517, a bipartisan bill Sewell introduced in the House “to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the courageous Foot Soldiers whose perilous journey from Selma to Montgomery led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Known for being a team player in Congress, Sewell has continuously spoken out to ensure there is consistent job creation and development for the workforce, specifically economic development. She consistently reaches across the aisle working with conservative members from the Alabama delegation for bills to strengthen the state.  She and Rep. Bradley Byrne recently worked together to file a bill bringing back the Workforce Development Tax Credit Act, H.R. 1781. It would help stimulate employment and increase work-skills development by creating incentives for employers to hire apprentices.

We can all say we want to see more jobs but the congresswoman has gone as far as to host job fairs and workshops to ensure there is the connection between the employers and potential employees and also to provide the potential employees with the knowledge they need to get back into the workforce.

“I am proud of the work my office is doing to address the challenges posed by systemic unemployment in the 7th Congressional District. Through our Project R.E.A.D.Y workshops and annual Job Fair, we are working to make sure that all in the 7th District have access to meaningful career development,” Sewell says on her official website.

While her list of accomplishments continues to grow, Sewell will be the first to tell you, “There is still much work to be done.” She’s a visionary whose steadfast dedication to improving the quality of life in Alabama is apparent in everything she does.

Need we really say anymore as to why U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell is an Alabama Woman of Influence?

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