Author: Chocolate Vent
Mayor Cantrell’s life has been steeped in community service. As a little girl, her grandmother would bring her to neighborhood meetings, and by the age of 13, she was serving as secretary for her local chamber of commerce.
“My soul found its home in New Orleans,” is how Mayor Cantrell describes her arrival in 1990 as a student at Xavier University. After graduation, she and her husband, Jason, bought a home in the Broadmoor neighborhood, and Cantrell became an active member of her new community.
As the President of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, Cantrell led the neighborhood’s redevelopment following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Flooding decimated Broadmoor, but through citizen engagement and Cantrell’s leadership, Broadmoor is now considered an international model for disaster recovery.
Elected to the City Council in 2012, Cantrell has prioritized improving people’s lives.
On May 7, 2018, Mayor Cantrell was sworn in as the first female Mayor of New Orleans, just in time to celebrate the city’s tricentennial, or 300th anniversary.
She is a dedicated wife to her husband, Jason, proud mother of her daughter, RayAnn, and a parishioner at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.
Mayor Cantrell pledges to produce results that will create a more equitable and safe New Orleans for all residents.
Yaa Gyasi is the author of Homegoing, one of the most celebrated debuts of 2016. A riveting, kaleidoscopic novel, Homegoing is a story of race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America. An important new literary voice, Gyasi’s writing has been praised by National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates as “an inspiration” and “what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task.” In September 2016, she was chosen by Coates as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees. Personable and intimate, Gyasi’s lectures explore contemporary craft, cultural identity, and the complex racial landscape of America’s past and present.
Homegoing is the story of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Homegoing stretches from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration and twentieth-century Harlem. A powerful and emotional American novel about race and history, this is truly a book for our times.
Born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Gyasi is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and lives in Berkeley, California.
Ayanna Pressley is the first African American woman that Massachusetts elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policy-maker, an activist, and survivor. Her election to the Boston City Council in 2009 marked the first time a woman of color was elected to the Council in its 100-year history. This laid the foundation for Ayanna’s groundbreaking work, with which she has consistently strived to improve the lives of people that have too often been left behind.
Raised in Chicago as the only child of an activist mother who instilled in her the value of civic participation, Ayanna understands the role that government should play in helping to lift up communities that are in need of the most help. After her election to the Council in 2009, she successfully pursued the establishment of the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities. The Committee addresses causes that Ayanna has always been most devoted to: stabilizing families and communities, reducing and preventing violence and trauma, combating poverty, and addressing issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.
Ayanna is intentional about engaging community voices in leading and informing policy by making sure they have a seat at the table.
Ayanna’s legislative achievements resulted in her being the top vote-getter in three consecutive elections, making her the first woman in 30 years to achieve this distinction and the first person of color to top the ticket.
In 2016, Ayanna was named one of The New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch. In 2015, she earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award and was named one of Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People. In 2014, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce named her as one of their Ten Outstanding Young Leaders, and the Victim Rights Law Center presented her with their Leadership Award. She is also an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, Class of 2012.
Ayanna lives in the Ashmont/Adams neighborhood of Dorchester with her husband Conan Harris, nine-year-old stepdaughter Cora, and cat Sojourner Truth.