Ellen Johnson Sirleaf once said “if your dreams don’t scare you, then your dream isn’t big enough.”
On this year’s election day we saw a refugee girl who came here years ago finally achieve the American dream.
The African Leadership Group got to witness one of our community members, Naquetta Ricks, get elected as Colorado state representative for the House District 40.
Naquetta ran to ensure that whether you are a new immigrant or a fifth-generation Coloradan, you are given an equal opportunity to succeed in life. This means fighting at the State House for policies that expand the quality of life for our residents.
She believes that we must expand apprenticeships, vocational training, and continued access to education. One of her primary focuses will be affordable and attainable housing.
This was a historic victory for the African Refugee/Immigrant community. That fact was evident when Naquetta attended a small gathering Tuesday night to celebrate with a few community members. The energy in the room was contagious as members cheered and applauded the victory of one of our own being elected into office.
One community member said “It gives me hope! To know that mine and the generations to come have something to build. As a leader she has paved the way, she is the first and it is our duty that she won’t be the last.”
Those words echoed through out our community. Many feel like we finally have a seat at the table. It is much harder for immigrants like us and people of color to attain these positions because there is not a natural pipeline of people coming into politics and there are many obstacles to overcome.
For Naquetta, this was not her first go-round with running for office; she had run before but just fell short a few times. But Naquetta’s perseverance, dedication, hard work and resiliency kept her from losing hope.
With Naquetta elected, the younger generations should not feel limited because they do not identify with people in our government. Now, they can see someone like them in these elected positions.
She has paved the way for immigrant/refugee kids to come.