Hanna Bogale is one of 7 candidates running to fill two at-large positions on the Aurora, Colorado city council. As a second-generation Ethiopian American, she believes it is critical for more Africans to become involved in politics to encourage the younger generation to get their voices heard.
“Everybody in the African community hears American politics and they get scared and don’t participate,” said Bogale. “But we do live here, our voices need to be heard and we do need a seat at the table to make those important decisions.”
One of Bogale’s goals for running for office is to be a model for the future generation of African immigrants in Colorado.
“I hope they, African youth in Aurora get inspired,” Bogale said. “I’m learning as I go and everybody else can do the same. Their age, their color, their gender cannot stop them from achieving their goal and serving others.”
While Bogale believes that there are not nearly as many African representations as needed in Aurora politics, she thinks the support she received from the community and community leaders has inspired her to continue chasing her goals.
An area to pay close attention to when looking to inspire the youth is education. This need was recognized by Dr. Anne Keke, who is running for an at-large seat on the Aurora Public Schools (APS) Board of Education.
A native of the Ivory Coast in West Africa, Keke believes that it is essential for the education board to have a diverse perspective. Her campaign goal is to get educational excellence for every student as she believes education is the foundation of society.
An alumna of both the University of Colorado Denver and Colorado Technical University, Keke believes that education is one of the main paths to beating poverty, which is why African Immigrants tend to prioritize it.
“The more you know, the more powerful you become,” she said. “As such, we immigrants come to the U.S. from abroad and the first thing on our mind is to either get educated ourselves or to make sure our kids are well educated.”
By running for this position, Keke hopes to inspire the African community in Aurora to get involved in education.
“The message is simple, be informed and get involved,” she said. “You are now part of this society, and you have to evolve and get educated along with our children and the natives of this society. The expectation is to be involved because your difference is beautiful.”
When speaking of people in the community who have inspired them, both Bogale and Keke mentioned State Representative Naquetta Ricks, who became the first African immigrant elected to the Colorado legislature.
During the last few years, the number of African women involved in American politics increased. Women such as Representative Ricks from Colorado, U.S. Representative Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota, and State Representative Esther Agbaje from Minnesota, have brought change to their communities and inspired others to follow their lead.
Elections in Colorado are scheduled for November 2.