Diane Abbott made history in 1987 by becoming the first Black member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Abbott was recently re-elected to her historic past last month amid worries that she might not return to her post.
Abbott was born in London in 1953 to Jamaican parents. She attended university at Cambridge’s Newhamn College ahead of her foray into politics in 1982. After an unsuccessful bid to the British Parliament in 1985, Abbott was elected to the Parliament’s House of Commons two years later.
During her tenure, Abbott has been painted as something of a firebrand in the British press and critics have bristled at her outspoken stances on racism and politics. With her stances against the Iraq War and invasive policies such as ID cards for citizens, Abbott branded herself a woman of the people. A member of the left-leaning moderate Labour Party, she’s become known for disagreeing with some of her party’s political choices.
There have been some controversies during her time in Parliament that have hurt Abbott’s public image. Abbott once forgot to declare monies she earned from appearing on BBC News. In the ’80’s, Abbott went on record to say that she considers herself Black instead of Black British, because of racism in the United Kingdom.
Abbott has also called out racist attacks online and fellow Parliament members on their own questionable stances. Just last month, British media speculated that Abbott’s time in Parliament was done after she stepped down from her Shadow Home Secretary post. In her absence, she was re-elected and emerged healthier after it was revealed she had been suffering with diabetes.
Black youth organizers staged a rally honoring Abbott on the heels of the #AbbottAppreciation social media campaign, celebrating her return to Parliament and giving her the floor to express some words to her critics.
“Contrary to what you’ve heard about strong Black women, even strong Black women cry, even strong Black women feel alone, even strong Black women wonder, ‘Is this all really worth it?’ Even strong Black women think, ‘Maybe I should just bail out,’” Abbott said at the event.
Abbott has one adult son.
PHOTO: By Alex Hilton
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