Words by Natalie Goode-Henry
When Utahn Mia Love held a Q&A with students at University of Chicago Law School last year, she was asked by a black female student this barbed question: “In today’s America, how can a black woman be a Republican?”
The Brooklyn-born, then Saratoga Springs mayor’s comeback was to cite Martin Luther King Jr.
“I’m a Republican because I believe in an America where we can work to achieve our own destinies. Martin Luther King Jr. rejected the notion that he should remain a second-class citizen. Dr. King refused to accept the status quo, refused to stay inside the box.”
Elected this month as the first black Republican woman in Congress in the predominately white and Mormon-practiced state of Utah, Love knows she doesn’t fit the usual Republican mold of a middle-aged white man. Hence her election night victory speech.
“Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS (latter day saints) woman to Congress. And guess what? Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!”
Yet, she isn’t willing to revel in it. When pressed by CNN anchors about the lack of diversity in Utah government and how her win changes things. Love countered by saying her race didn’t grant her the win, nor her gender but strong values and integrity did.
Love, 39, attributes those ideals to her Haitian parents that fled their war-torn homeland in 1974. And landed in the U.S. with only $10. A biographical highlight Love wowed the crowd with at the Republican National Convention in 2012. The fiery speech sealed her fate as the new face of the Republican party, (as well as prove the party isn’t the racist or sexists liberals paint them as) just as Barack Obama did with his “allow-me-to-introduce-myself” speech at 2004’s Democratic National Convention.
The similarity stops there. Love, may not look the part, but her stance on gay marriage, gun control and immigration express her true red views. It’s that far-right leaning that got her from city council member to Saratoga Springs mayor. However, she failed to win the Utah congressional seat on her first try (she was bested by incumbent Jim Matheson) in 2012. This forced the first generation American to rethink her game plan and come back a victor. That she did.