By ZEINAB NAJM
From Detroit to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib made history as she was sworn into Michigan’s 13th District seat as the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in the House.
She joined Minnesota 5th District Representative Ilhan Omar as the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress.
Tlaib was sworn into the 116th Congress Jan. 3 by returning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while wearing a traditional Palestinian thobe as an ode to her mother, along with using her own Quran.
She had planned to use Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran, a 1734 translation into English, from the Library of Congress before changing her mind, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m going to use my own,” she told the Detroit Free Press. “Why uplift someone else? It’s starting a new era in social justice. … It just occurred to me: Why am I not using my own?”
Just before her swearing-in, the hall outside of Tlaib’s office was filled with family, friends, MPower Change Action Founder Linda Sarsour, comedian Mo Amer and 100 children from Detroit.
While on social media, the Twitter campaign #TweetYourThobe started by Palestinian-American Susan Muaddi Darraj was gaining traction. People from all over the world were posting photos of themselves wearing a Palestinian thobe.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, Tlaib took to social media to thank her supporters and posting photos from the historic day.
“This day belongs to all of us. We changed Congress forever,” and “Surrounding myself with so much love. Thank you #TlaibTeam for being part of this incredible journey,” on two separate Instagram posts.
“This is it. You officially have a new Congresswoman who is ready to fight for you. Being accessible to every single resident from day one is how I stay #rootedincommunity,” she posted on Facebook. “Get ready to feel and know someone has your back in D.C. #rootedincommunity. Never backing down because you taught me better than that! #13thDistrictStrong.”
Tlaib will serve a two-year term in a district that includes portions of Dearborn Heights and Detroit along with Melvindale, Ecorse, Garden City, Highland Park, Inkster, Redford Township, River Rouge, Romulus, Wayne and Westland.
She is oldest of 14 children and the daughter of two Palestinian immigrants. The Detroit native was the first in her family to attend college where she graduated from Wayne State University in 1998 with an undergraduate degree in political science and then graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2004.
She worked with nonprofits before entering politics in 2004 through an internship with former state Rep. Steve Tobocman. Tlaib is an attorney at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice. To contact Tlaib’s office go to www.tlaib.house.gov.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)