Story highlights

Rep. Love is the first black Republican woman in Congress

Her parents immigrated from Haiti

CNN —  

To celebrate Black History Month, our #TBT series will highlight several African-American politicians who made history. Many black politicians broke barriers during Reconstruction, but it took more than a century for some trails to be blazed. Rep. Mia Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress in 2014.

According to her official house biography and campaign website, Ludmya “Mia” Bourdeau was born to Haitian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. She majored in fine arts at the University of Hartford, and according to the Salt Lake Tribune, was one of only 11 students to qualify for her performing arts program her first year.

She converted to Mormonism, worked as a flight attendant and moved to Utah after college. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that she turned down a role on Broadway to remain in Utah and marry her husband, Jason Love. Beginning in 2004, she served as a Saratoga Springs councilwoman before becoming mayor in 2010.

Love lost her first attempt at a congressional seat in 2012 by fewer than 800 votes. That was the same year then-Mayor Love burst onto the national political scene with a speech at the RNC.

During her speech, Love spoke about the American Dream:

“The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It’s been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream; and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today.”

In 2014, Love beat four opponents and won her seat in Congress with 50% of the vote. She did it again in 2016. Love currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee.