News » Politics » Activist Saira Rao mounting primary challenge against Rep. DeGette in Colorado

Activist Saira Rao mounting primary challenge against Rep. DeGette in Colorado

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The lawyer and writer is one of the 19 Indian Americans running for Congress this year.

Indian American lawyer, social activist and educator Saira Rao is taking on fellow Democrat and incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette from Colorado’s first congressional district.

A renowned social justice activist, Rao has raised her voice for the rights of blacks and colored people.

She is one of at least 19 Indian Americans—including four incumbents—that are on the ballot in congressional elections.

The first district includes the city and county of Denver.

Daughter of immigrant Indian parents, Rao champions the protection of immigrant families, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and environmental protection, among other issues.

A graduate of the University of Virginia and New York University School of Law, Rao was a television news producer in Washington, D.C., and Miami. She also worked as a law clerk for the United States courts of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia and as a lawyer at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City.

She has written a novel, Chambermaid, which is about a young law school graduate breaking the code of silence surrounding the clerkship and the inner workings of the judiciary.

RELATED: List of Indian Americans running for Congress in 2018

Last month, in an open letter to the Democratic Party, published on The Huffington Post, she accused the party of avoiding people other than whites and declared that she was breaking up with the party.

In the letter, titled “I’m A Brown Woman Who’s Breaking Up With The Democratic Party,” she said she realized “now that the love has been one-sided.” The piece earned her support from people across several communities.

Rao is the co-founder of In This Together Media to remedy the lack of brown, black, LGBTQI, poor, and disabled voices in kids’ media. She and her partner were told by the establishment that they didn’t understand how media works. But, they went ahead with the project and over the past six years, they have worked to give a voice and a platform to those who have been traditionally marginalized.

According to her campaign website, she is about to publish a young adult anthology featuring 48 essays from leaders describing their teenage struggles, including Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; teen trans activist Gavin Grimm; and Danielle Vabner, a young woman who lost her baby brother at the Sandy Hook massacre.

“I have big, willing ears to listen and a big, unapologetic mouth to spread stories for change,” Rao said.

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