"It’s our time to take the driver’s seat and make change happen."
State Representative London Lamar was elected in 2018 and became the youngest person ever elected to the state legislature. During her time there, she worked to protect the most vulnerable in her community including introducing legislation inspired by the case of Cyntoia Brown, a young woman who was jailed for killing her abuser when she was underaged.
Name: London Lamar
Location: Memphis, TN
Role: Tennessee State Representative
Coalition(s): African American, woman, under 30
Social Media: @londonlamar
Can you tell us about the office you are running for/your current elected position? My name is London Lamar and I serve as Tennessee State Representative for District 91 which is located in Memphis, TN. I am currently the youngest member in the General Assembly and serve as the House Democratic Caucus Secretary.
What made you decide to run for office? I ran for office because I felt our political system lacks adequate representation. Since I was a child, my mom and grandmother continuously talked about the importance of voting and being engaged in your community. Those lessons manifested in me throughout school as I enjoyed being involved in student and community groups dedicated to improving the lives of those they serve. Therefore, witnessing President Obama become elected as the frost African American President gave me the confidence to pursue politics and I never looked back. Following college when I moved back to Memphis, I was disappointed in our current state of leadership. As I engaged in the local and state democratic party and other political groups, the lack of young, black women in positions of power and influence did not sit right with my soul and I decided to step into the role of leadership. If I wanted my community to work on behalf of myself, family, friends and community futures, then we must be in power. I ran for office.
What is the most important issue you are focusing on in your campaign? When I ran for office, I promised I would advocate for strong schools, healthy families and safe communities and when I reflect on my first legislative session, we have done just that. Over the course of my first session we passed several bills that would give additional educational opportunities to mothers, require prenatal and postpartum care for pregnant prisoners, secure additional legal rights for victims of human trafficking and combatting lead in schools. Going into my next legislative session, I want to continue to push these issues and get legislation passed.
Why is the leadership of Black women needed right now? The black woman is the most underappreciated group, yet we give so much to this country. This system that is being held in place is built in our oppression; therefore, in order to change it, we must elect more black women in office who can speak to our lived experiences and change the system so that we can thrive as well. There is no better representation for black women than black women.
What advice would you give other women who want to get involved in their community or who want to run for office? Just do it! We have nothing to lose but our oppression. Begin by finding the issues that you’re most passionate about and communicate the need for change within your network. Continue by solving the issues through volunteering, projects, joining organizations or advocacy. Take that work to build on your platform and build a team to prepare to run. Women have always played a back seat in the movement, but it’s our time to take the driver’s seat and make change happen.