Ilhan Omar has made history many times over. Once, as the country’s first Somali-American legislator, elected to Minnesota's House of Representatives at just the age of 34. In 2016 OkayAfrica reported from Minnesota on her broad appeal among millennials there, a phenomenon we dubbed “the Ilhan Omar effect.” Most recently, she became one of two Muslim Congresswoman when she and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) won their races during the November midterm elections. And then again at the top of the year, when she entered into a historic class of women to be sworn into office; a record 127 women are now serving in the 116th Congress.
She’s a refugee, having fled Somalia in 1995. She’s an immigrant. An outspoken civil servant, Omar isn’t shying away from talk of impeaching America’s current president. She is, if the current White House administration policies are any indication, what their right-leaning supporters fear. But Omar isn’t going anywhere. She’s here to serve the constituents of Minnesota and she’s doing it while proudly changing the antiquated rules of Congress; she is the first person to wear a hijab in the House. (Head coverings have been banned in the House for nearly two centuries). It might seem like an obvious and small win, but forever changing an institution like the American government isn’t easy, especially in today’s political climate. This, a testament to her fearlessness, is why she will forever be celebrated as someone who showed up Muslim-Americans in a country fraught with Islamophobia.