HomeKorean AmericanMarilyn Strickland:1st Korean American woman in Congress

Marilyn Strickland:1st Korean American woman in Congress

Marilyn Strickland will go down in history as the first female Korean American Congressmember as well as the first Black congressional representative for the Pacific Northwest, King 5 reports. 

Strickland, a Democrat, was announced the winner of the race for Washington’s 10th Congressional District Wednesday morning, The Seattle Times reports. She replaces Congressmember Denny Heck, who made a successful bid to be the state’s lieutenant governor. 

“It’s a deep sense of pride because, you know, what I’m doing now is making it more commonplace for this to happen,” Strickland, who was born in Seoul, Korea, said, King 5 reports. 

The former mayor of Tacoma, Washington and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce won against state Rep. Beth Doglio, also a Democrat. According to The Seattle Times, Strickland survived a highly-contested 19-person primary election. 

According to King 5, Strickland joins Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) as the only other Korean American in Congress. For Steve Kang, president of the Korean American Democratic Committee, Strickland’s victory is a welcome one to the Korean community. 

“Our community has been yearning for a member of Congress for many decades,” Kang said, King 5 reports. “Having one Andy Kim was an amazing victory for our community. But now we [Strickland]… we’re breaking glass barriers here.” 

Strickland’s victory also signifies the growth of multiracial representation in politics. Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris’ biracial identity has been discussed at length throughout the 2020 election cycle, PBS reports. 

With the country’s ‘obsession’ with categorizing racial identities in neat boxes, Daniella Casarez Lemi said many multiracial politicians find themselves in a ‘cultural balancing act.’ 

“When we see people who are difficult to assign to how we understand what it means to be White, Black and Hispanic … a lot of people are compelled to ask, ‘What are you?’ And then they have all these other questions to assess your authenticity,” Cassarez Lemi, a Southern Methodist University fellow said. 

For Strickland, it’s just the beginning. According to The Seattle Times, Strickland aims to take a bipartisan approach to come up with a national response plan to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our positive message, our focus on the issues that mattered most to voters really helped push us over the top,” Strickland said, King 5 reports. 

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