Yvette Clarke: Advocate for Women, Children, Immigrants
Many people may not know of the connection between Central Brooklyn, NY, which is the hub of Caribbean Americans in the United States, and the first black woman elected to Congress, a Caribbean-American, Shirley Chisholm. Taking off where Chisholm left off is Rep.Yvette Clarke (D-NY), a Brooklyn-born Caribbean American with firm Jamaican roots through her immigrant parents.
Since 2006, when she won the seat her mother unsuccessfully tried to garner before, Clarke has emerged as a vocal and outspoken leader in Congress, who has worked with many non-profit organizations and community groups in her district to secure federal support and funding.
The Brooklyn-born representative has been championing the interests of the 11th District of New York since she arrived on the political scene in Washington, D.C. Her district includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Sunset Park, Carroll Gardens, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Prospect Park. The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Prospect Park Alliance and the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) have all benefitted from Clarke’s efforts in Congress.
Clarke said last year that her course to Capitol Hill was not deliberately charted. The science major first wanted to become a pediatrician but diverted paths to public service after taking notice of her mother’s work.
“My brother and I grew up seeing our mother (former New York City Councilwoman Una Clarke), at the centre of planning, mobilizing, advocating for and helping others,” Clarke told the Jamaica Gleaner at a charity event in Jamaica last year. “I got the early exposure as the only child in the middle of grown-up meetings.”
Since entering the House, the close ally of labor unions, has been a vocal member of the House Homeland Security Committee and during the last legislative session, was named the Chair of the Homeland Security Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, Science and Technology subcommittee. She was also named the Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2008. Currently in the 112th Congress, Rep. Clarke sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security and House Committee on Small Business.
Clarke is also a champion of women’s rights and children’s issues, often co-sponsoring bills aimed at giving women information on their reproductive health. She also worked on the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Elimination of the Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA), the elimination of nutritional food stamp programs and early education services for low-income children and families.