Historic Win: Gabe Amo Becomes Rhode Island’s First Black Congressman

Gabe Amo, a former White House aide and the son of African immigrants, achieved a historic milestone on Tuesday, securing victory in the race for Rhode Island’s first congressional district seat. Amo’s triumph marks a significant moment in Rhode Island’s political landscape as he becomes the state’s first black candidate elected to Congress.

The 35-year-old Democrat emerged victorious in the election, filling the congressional seat left vacant by former Democratic Representative David Cicilline. Cicilline departed earlier in the year to take the helm at the Rhode Island Foundation. In the fiercely contested race, Amo outpaced Republican contender Gerry Leonard, a US Marine veteran who centred his campaign around opposing “Bidenomics” and advocating for US aid to Ukraine.

Amo’s political journey is complemented by an impressive educational background. He is an alumnus of Wheaton College and Oxford University, and he has worked in both the Obama and Biden administrations. Additionally, he served under then-Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo. His deep-seated motivation to serve stems from the example set by his parents, immigrants from Ghana and Liberia. His mother pursued a career in nursing, while his father established a liquor store.

Amo passionately highlighted that his background is emblematic of Rhode Island’s longstanding tradition as a haven for diverse individuals to flourish and build their lives. He expressed this sentiment following his primary win.

During his campaign, Amo garnered the support of former Democratic US Representative Patrick Kennedy, who previously represented the same district from 1995 to 2011.

Amo articulated his commitment to safeguarding essential social programmes like Social Security and Medicare from Republican efforts to cut them. He also affirmed his dedication to protecting abortion rights across the nation and advocating for increased federal legislation to address the climate crisis.

Amo’s victory signifies a significant shift away from the state’s historical Italian-American political establishment. This change in political dynamics marks a departure from the era of Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, the longtime mayor of Providence, who was convicted of corruption and represented the embodiment of the traditional Rhode Island political landscape.

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