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Poet-politican: first Black trans American to run a city council

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Poet, performance artist, politician and ground breaker. For Andrea Jenkins, the first Black transgender American to lead a city council, all roles rest on her lifelong quest for justice. “Poetry and politics have had a very close connection,” Jenkins, 60, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call. “As one of my favourite poets and mentors, Amiri Baraka, said, ‘Poets are the legislators of the world.'” After almost three decades in local government, Jenkins still teaches poetry at her local arts college but it is a drive to secure stronger Black and trans rights, along with representing her constituents, that consumes her.

She became the first Black, trans person to lead a city council in January, a breakthrough that the U.S. broadcaster NBC heralded as making “national history”.

But she worries that things are going the wrong way in the United States, citing a rash of transgender-related bills in largely conservative states that seek to turn back the clock.

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