News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 6, 2023: A lot has been written since the emergence of Black Republican Congressman Byron Lowell Donalds, (R-FL19th), as an alternative contender for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives against Kevin McCarthy. But nothing on his possible roots in the Caribbean.
While Donalds’ bio simply says he was born in Crown Heights, NY before moving to Florida, there is nothing of heritage in the Caribbean. Yet in October 2021, in paying tribute to late General Colin Powell, the Florida congressman hinted at heritage in the region like Powell.
Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, was a first-generation American born and raised within the Bronx.
In a tribute, Byron, 44, stated: “Like Gen. Powell, I too grew up in New York Metropolis and got here from Jamaican heritage.”It is the only reference he has ever made to heritage outside of the U.S.
His office did not respond to a News Americas inquiry on the issue and who in his family has roots in the region. Little is known on the heritage of his mother, except that she was a single mother of three, who sent the little Byron to private school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
At the time, she worked as a coordinator of trauma service at the local hospital in New York and sent the 7-year-old Byron to schools like Brooklyn Friends School, an independent Quaker school, and Nazareth Regional High School, a Catholic school.
Brown, according to her Facebook profile, studied Labor Laws at Cornell University; graduatedFordham Universityand Long Island University and is a CUNY professor.
In 1997, Donalds was arrested for marijuana distribution; the charges were dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion program. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge as part of a scheme to defraud a bank.
Donaldsattended Florida A&M University from 1996-1999 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and marketing from Florida State University in 2002.
Before entering politics, Donalds worked in the finance, insurance, and banking industries. He has worked at TIB Bank, CMG Life Services, and Moran Wealth in Naples, Florida.
In 2012, Donalds was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 19th congressional district. He finished fifth of six candidates. In 2014, Donalds was reported as a likely candidate for the U.S. House in Florida’s 19th congressional district after the resignation of Trey Radel but decided against running.
He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016. During his Florida House tenure, he chaired the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
He was first elected to Congress in 2020 after defeating his Democratic opponent, Cindy Banyai. Upon his swearing-in on January 3, 2021, Donalds became only the sixth person to represent this district since its creation in 1983. His district serves most of the heart of Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples, where he lives.
In late 2020, Donalds was identified as a participant in the “Freedom Force”, a group of incoming House Republicans who “say they’re fighting against socialism in America.”
In January 2021, Donalds voted to object to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election.
On January 3, 2023, Donalds received one vote in the election for Speaker of House, from Chip Roy. Along with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ nomination, it marked the first day two Black men have been nominated speaker.
Donalds voted for Kevin McCarthy on the first two ballots and switched his vote to Jim Jordan on the third ballot.On January 4, on the fourth ballot of the election, Roy nominated Donalds to be Speaker of the House, where he received 20 votes.
He was then nominated by Lauren Boebert on the fifth ballot, and again received 20 votes. He was nominated by Scott Perry on the sixth ballot. He was nominated by Dan Bishop on the seventh ballot.
On Thursday, Republicans again nominated Rep. Donalds for four of five of Thursday’s voting rounds. After getting a few votes on the eighth ballot, Rep. Kevin Hern was also officially nominated for the ninth, 10th and 11th rounds of voting. Notably, Rep. Matt Gaetz voted for former President Donald Trump during the seventh and eighth ballots, and he nominated the former president for speaker in the 11th ballot. Trump only received one vote in that round.
McCarthy’s bid for speaker has been stymied by about 20 fellow Republicans.