Women's History Month:
ANDREA JENKINS, Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council
Andrea Jenkins is a writer, performance artist, poet and transgender activist. She is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Since January 2018, she has served as Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council.
Jenkins has always been involved in her local community. She has been a champion in Minnesota, fighting for the rights of trans women of color and speaking out on inequities in the Black community. A reluctant leader who was used to doing her work without the lens of the camera on her, she never dreamed of national notoriety and could not imagine she would be making history.
But the presidential election of 2016 changed everything for her. She said it gave her a new fervor for contributing to sustainable change and she knew it needed to start on the local level. She believed that cities were already leading on issues that were important to her; climate change, raising the minimum wage, bail reform and more. “I knew I had to get engaged”, she offered.
The night she was elected in 2017, two other African Americans were elected to a city council that previously only had two people of color.
Jenkins, a native of Chicago, moved to Minnesota over 30 years ago. She remains appalled by the numbers that show the Black community being ranked lowest in the Twin Cities in terms of home ownership, access to quality health care, access to education and unemployment.
“We’re trying to really ensure that we are including businesses of color and businesses from underrepresented communities in that process,” she told Essence Magazine. “The theory and the hope and desire is that intentionally creating this Strategic Race Equity Action Plan will help mitigate some of those oppressions and systemic racist policies that we have…and overcome those if you will.”
Jenkins moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979 and was hired by the Hennepin County government, where she worked for a decade. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota's Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.
Jenkins holds a Master’s Degree in Community Development from Southern New Hampshire University, an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. She is a nationally and internationally recognized writer and artist, a 2011 Bush Fellow to advance the work of transgender inclusion, and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships.
In 2019, she co-edited and released the book Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose and Pride.KNOW MORE: https://www.essence.com/feature/andrea-jenkins-revolutionary-power-black-trans-women/