By NAN ET Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Nov. 8, 2023: The son of immigrants from Ghana and Liberia has made history and will become the state’s first Black and person of color elected to Congress.
Democrat Gabriel Felix Kofi Amo, known as Gabe Amo, defeated Republican Gerry Leonard to win Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat Tuesday.
Amo, 35, who once worked as a White House aide, succeeds former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who stepped down this summer to become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.
Amo said he is grateful to be able to serve the district and state he loves. “Undoubtedly, I’m humbled by the real momentous opportunity to serve as the first person of color,” Amo told The Associated Press before walking out to address his supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history.”
Amo said he sees himself as part of a long line of advocates who came before him, whether they were people of color or those fighting for the rights of woman or the working class.
“For Rhode Island, it’s been interesting to have an immigrant story that everyone can relate to,” he said, adding that one of his top priorities on arriving in Washington will be to help ensure that the federal government begins to function again.
He said he will also work to fight gun violence and protect Social Security, abortion rights, and Medicare.
“I’m going to be a voice for making sure we can restore confidence and trust despite the Republican Party that is rife with chaos,” said Amo, who grew up in Pawtucket and emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic field in the September primary, claiming more than 32% of the vote.
Amo served in the Obama and Biden administrations, most recently as the deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He also served at one point in the administration of then-Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.
He is an alumnus of Wheaton College and studied public policy at Oxford University, and he has said he was inspired by his parents’ drive. His mother studied nursing and his father opened a liquor store in part so he could be his own boss.
“Just because my parents were born in two different West African countries, (it) doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit that narrative of how Rhode Island has been a haven for so many people from so many different places to thrive and build their families,” Amo added.
His father and mother immigrated to Rhode Island from Ghana and Liberia, respectively. His mother is a nurse and his father owns a liquor store. He graduated from the Moses Brown college preparatory school in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was part of the student senate and received the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Civic Leadership Award.