I grew up on Section 8 housing, food stamps, and medicaid — right here in our district. I went to our schools, breathed our air, and walked our streets all my life. This is my story.
I was born to my parents on January 6th, 1999 in the city I love and cherish — Fort Lauderdale. Growing up, I always wanted to be an educator and serve children and families. I grew up in a household with many siblings — some older, and some younger. My single mom did her part to provide me and my siblings with the best that she could so that we could get ahead.
In my early years of life and adolescence, I practiced my family's faith, went to school, and got involved in community activism. At the same time, I was trapped in extreme poverty. Often times, I believed that I deserved my conditions. I remember a teacher telling me early in life that I would be dead or in jail by the time that I'd turn 21 years old. That defined my life, until recently. I joined a local gang, and found myself along the way. I started writing letters to my Mayor and City commissioner, who were the only elected officials to write back. It was a painful journey to where I am now.
I went to Fort Lauderdale High School, and graduated from the Class of 2017. I was a Navy JROTC student, I studied criminal justice, constitutional law, and technology & design. My life changed because of teachers and mentor who believed in me and saw my potential. It's why I got involved in politics. I started visiting my elected officials' offices and as unexpected at the time — they slammed the doors in my face. "Go away kid" they said. But I kept coming back, each and every single day. I started going to school board meetings to advocate for the students of my school and the county, becoming known as "Mr. President" in school. I joined political campaigns, ran track, and did what other young boys did — play.
After attending many school board meetings, and seeing firsthand the issues in my school, I decided that it was time to do something about it. So, I ran for office. At first, everybody laughed and told me not to do it. You're too young. You don't have any life experience. Wait your turn. Someday, kid. However, I knew that it was the time to tackle theses issues and bring about change. So, I ran for the Broward County School Board, in 2018 as the youngest candidate to ever run for office in Broward County, Florida and the State of Florida. I lost, but I earned the confidence of 43,009 voters in our county, shocking many people and reserving our spot in the political conversation. I am proud of what we accomplished in the campaign. It's truly my life's honor to tackle education issues and fight for children.
On June 4th, 2017 — I graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School. I currently study History at Broward College.
In December 2018, I had the honor of being invited to the 3rd Seoul Human Rights Conference in South Korea, where I was able to talk about young people's rights and youth in politics.
Earlier this year, I was a delegate to the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, which brought 1k young people form across the globe to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to have dialogue about our future and global issues facing our generation.
Earlier this year, I was invited by the president of the United Nations Economic & Social Council, Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King, to attend the Economic & Social Council youth Forum. The forum brought 1k young people from around the world into the United Nations Headquarters, where we made recommendations directly to world leaders and Presidents about climate change, and political issues.
I have attended school board meetings since the eighth grade, first watching and then eventually speaking up about the issues that mattered most to students & educators.
Although I lost the school board race, we have tackled so many issues together — racial inequities in schools, disparities in funding, the achievement gap, student homelessness & hunger, and transparency in governance.
I was one of 500 young people to be selected to be a participant in the American Legion's Boys State, a program where young people run the state government for a whole week. I was elected Speaker pro-tempore of the Florida House of Representatives. I received an award for writing the Best House Bill out of the many bills that were drafted by the 500 participants, and was featured in the West Side Gazette. At the time, I did not know that I would be running for the actual Florida House of Representatives in four short years.
I served as a member of the Board of Directors and Vice President of the National Youth Rights Association from December 2016-January 31, 2019. In NYRA, I championed young people's rights and political voice.
Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward
Helped organize Broward's Youth Climate Strike
Life Insurance & Financial Services Licensed
Web Design Expert
Writing, Reading and creating poetry, web design, dogs, children, ice cream, and Medicaid & Medicare. I'm also a die hard fan of Game of Thrones, Hozier, Imagine Dragons (sorry boys), and podcasts on YouTube.
Elijah & his younger sister Yakirah