One of the First Two Muslim Women Elected to Congress
"Rashida Harbi Tlaib (born July 24, 1976) is an American politician and lawyer serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district since 2019. The district includes the western half of Detroit, along with several of its western suburbs and much of the Downriver area. A member of the Democratic Party, Tlaib represented the 6th and 12th districts of the Michigan House of Representatives before her election to Congress. She was the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature.
In 2018, Tlaib won the Democratic nomination for the United States House of Representatives seat from Michigan's 13th congressional district. She ran unopposed in the general election and became the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and, with Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Tlaib is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). She and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the first two DSA members to serve in Congress. Tlaib has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration and advocated impeachment of the President. On foreign affairs, she has sharply criticized the Israeli government, called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
The eldest of 14 children, Rashida Harbi was born on July 24, 1976, to working-class Palestinian immigrants in Detroit. Her mother was born in Beit Ur El Foka, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Her father was born in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. He moved first to Nicaragua, then to Detroit. He worked on an assembly line in a Ford Motor Company plant. As the eldest, Tlaib played a role in raising her siblings while her parents worked, but the family sometimes had to rely on welfare for support.
Rashida Tlaib attended elementary school at Harms, Bennett Elementary, and Phoenix Academy. She graduated from Southwestern High School in Detroit in 1994. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1998 from Wayne State University. She earned a Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in 2004.
In 2008, Tobocman encouraged Tlaib to run for his seat, which he was vacating due to term limits. The urban district is 40% Hispanic, 25% African-American, 30% non-Hispanic white, and 2% Arab American. Tlaib faced a crowded primary that included several Latinos, including former State Representative Belda Garza. Tlaib emerged victorious, carrying 44% of the vote in the eight-way Democratic primary. Tlaib won the general election with over 90% of the vote.
In 2010, Tlaib faced a primary election challenge from Jim Czachorowski in his first bid for office. Tlaib picked up 85% of the vote, to Czachorowski's 15%. Tlaib also won the general election with 92% of the vote against Republican challenger Darrin Daigle.
In 2012, Tlaib won reelection again to the Michigan House in the newly redrawn 6th District against fellow incumbent Maureen Stapleton. She could not run for the Michigan House a fourth time in 2014 because of term limits and ran for the Michigan Senate, losing to incumbent Senator Virgil Smith Jr. in the Democratic primary in August 2014.
During her tenure as a legislator, Tlaib was one of ten Muslims serving in state legislatures across the United States. She is the second Muslim to serve in the Michigan State House of Representatives, after James Karoub. Tlaib is the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri. She and Justin Amash, a Republican who was also elected in 2008, were the first two Palestinian-American members of the Michigan legislature.
After leaving the state legislature, Tlaib worked at Sugar Law Center, a Detroit nonprofit that provides free legal representation for workers.
In 2018, Tlaib announced her intention to run for John Conyers's seat in Congress. She filed in both the Democratic primary in the special election for the balance of Conyers's 27th term, and in the general election for a full two-year term. Both elections were to be held the same day. No Republican qualified for either primary, but the 13th is so heavily Democratic that any Republican would have faced nearly impossible odds. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+33, the 13th is the most Democratic district in Michigan and tied for the 20th-most Democratic district in the nation. Conyers held the seat without serious difficulty from 1965 until his resignation in 2017 (it was numbered as the 1st from 1965 to 1993 and as the 14th from 1993 to 2013), and never won with less than 77 percent of the vote.
As of July 16, 2018, Tlaib had raised $893,030 in funds, more than her five opponents in the August 7 Democratic primary.
Tlaib finished second in the Democratic primary for the special election to Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who received 32,727 votes (37.7% of the total) to Tlaib's 31,084 (35.9%). Bill Wild, mayor of Westland, received 13,152 votes (15.2%) and Ian Conyers, the great-nephew of former Congressman Conyers, took fourth with 9,740 (11.2%). Jones faced no major-party opposition in the special election.
In the Democratic primary for the general election, Tlaib defeated Jones and Wild, among others. She received 27,803 votes, or 31.2%. She faced no major-party opposition in November 2018, though Jones mounted an eleventh-hour independent bid.
Tlaib became the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and simultaneously one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, along with fellow Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Tlaib took the congressional oath of office on January 3, 2019, swearing in on an English-language translation of the Quran. She wore a thawb (thobe), a traditional embroidered Palestinian dress, to the swearing-in ceremony. This inspired a number of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe." (1)