Ashley Kronebusch, Contributor
On the night of Saturday the 19th, as the temperature outside dropped to a chilling low, a party in a house by the Mississippi River had a warm and hopeful atmosphere as politicians, activists and constituents gathered to celebrate city councilwoman Andrea Jenkins’s first year in office.
Andrea Jenkins, who serves Ward 8 in Minneapolis, was elected in 2017 and became the first openly transgender, black elected official in American history. Jenkins was elected as Council Vice President at the first city council meeting.
As people mingled over fancy snacks and drinks, high-profile guests began to arrive, including politicians like Ilhan Omar and Jacob Frey. After an hour, several speakers addressed the crowd of about 50 people clustered together in the house’s living room. Omar praised Jenkins, saying, “And so what my sister Andrea does for so many of us is transforming us, not only through her words but through her presence, and when I think of all the young people, and every time they get a chance to tune in, to see a picture of her, to hear her speak, know they are no longer going to be invisible, because they have Andrea’s powerful presence at City Hall, means so much to me.”
Jenkins’s achievements at City Hall reflect her drive to fight injustice. Racial justice was a central tenant of her actions, like in how she was Chair of the Committee of Whole for the Race Equity Subcommittee or how she moved an amendment that gave funding to the African American Heritage Museum and Gallery. The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan was also a major milestone in the past year’s City Council.
The party, which was open to the public, reflects Jenkins’s views on governmental accessibility. Addressing the party, she said, “We ran on the platform of leadership, access and equity. And if you listen to the ‘Star Tribune,’ they will say that we were the wacky, crazy, council because we let everybody who wanted to come and speak to us speak, but I call that access … that has power.”
Throughout, Jenkins kept an eye on the future, acknowledging that her work fighting injustice was far from over. “This is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, so we must acknowledge the work that he did to move our country, nation, the world, to a more positive place, we gotta work on ending poverty, we gotta work on ending the injustices that impact so many of our marginalized communities, we have to be intentionally intersectional in our approach to that work,” she encouraged the excited crowd of people. The speeches ended with a lively drag show, with proceeds going to Jenkins’s campaign.
Jenkins has plans for a productive 2019 with the goal of completing last phase of Strategic and Race Equity Action Plan as it merges with Strategic Action Plan, implementing the 2020 census and redistricting.
This article was originally published in the Jan. 25, 2019 issue.