The answer to racism and anti-Semitism is knowledge. Education. History.
But by 2016, I had done my public service. After serving as a Florida House Representative from 2006-2012, then a senator from 2012-2016, I decided to travel with my husband to South Africa — strictly for leisure.
We visited the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years. I stood outside his cell. I looked at his cot. A bucket. Three walls and bars. I thought about how he remained dedicated and motivated for all of those years without breaking. And not only that, how long he had used that motivation to teach other prisoners.
I had an epiphany.
If Nelson Mandela could dedicate his life, including 27 years of imprisonment, to educate others on the issues he was passionate about, who am I to be content sitting on the sidelines? I knew I had to return to public service and keep fighting for those issues that meant so much to me.
House District 44 had a deep and consistent history of being held by wealthy, white, Republican men. I was always proud to have crossed those gender and race lines in my previous Senate seat, and I was confident I could do it again for HD44.
Ruth’s List contacted me and pledged their involvement in our race. I won the primary, and they were all in! The local grassroots women were especially supportive.
Election Day? I hit the trifecta! The first black Democratic woman to win the seat!
In my first legislative session this year, I’m keeping my resolution: working on legislation to ensure Florida statute is upheld in educating students on both African American History and the history of the Holocaust.
Now, I want to make sure more women like me are serving at all levels in Florida politics.
Representative Geraldine Thompson