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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has represented the District of Columbia in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991. Now in her 14th term and seeking a 15th this month, Del. Holmes Norton, who uses the honorific “Congresswoman,” has the same rights as any other state representative  save for the one she’s been fighting for years – the right to vote in order to pass legislation.

Born Eleanor Holmes on this day in 1937, the Washington, D.C. native attended Antioch College, Yale University, Yale Law School. While in college, Holmes Norton became active in the civil rights movement and was an organizer for the SNCC. In the mid-sixties, Holmes married attorney Edward Norton and she became the assistant legal director for the ACLU before being appointed by New York City Mayor John Lindsay to head the Human Rights Commission in 1970.

In 1977, Holmes Norton was named the first female chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1990, she was elected as the non-voting delegate for Washington, D.C. for the House, winning effectively with the help of her campaign manager, Donna Brazile.

One of the hallmarks of Del. Holmes Norton’s tenure in office is that she has fought proudly to achieve statehood for the District of Columbia. She has also worked on a bill that gives city residents the right to attend any public college or university in the nation at in-state tuition rates or to attend any private institution with a subsidy that can total up to $2,500 annually.

On June 19, Holmes Norton will face off in the Democratic primary against Kim Ford, a 37-year-old former Obama administration official. It is expected that Del. Holmes Norton will win her party’s nomination, which would bode well if the Democrats take back the House this fall. This would give Holmes Norton the ability to chair a full or subcommittee but she would still not have a full vote in the chamber.

 

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Little Known Black History Fact: Eleanor Holmes Norton was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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