For Senator Marilyn Moore, a Connecticut Democrat and majority whip in the state senate, faith and an open heart have informed her journey from the start. Her introduction to politics came in the seventh grade when her teacher, Charles Tisdale, became the first African American to run for mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Despite his defeat in the primary, Tisdale remained active in politics and community activism and began offering increasing responsibility to Moore. It was when he asked her to participate in the senatorial campaign for New York congressional member Major Owens that Moore knew she had what it takes to make her way in the political world.
Moore began running the campaigns of others and eventually became a senatorial aid, a position in which it was commonly said she ran the show from behind the scenes. This was the last nudge she needed to throw her own hat in the ring. Moore mounted a campaign and ran for senate, ultimately losing her first bid by less than 250 votes. Despite not winning the seat, Moore considered this a considerable victory. With such a small margin, she felt she had won in a sense and it gave her the confidence to try again. In 2014 she ran again and, despite the party pitting her against a hand-picked candidate in the primary, the people spoke and she took the vote by 1,000. Moore went on to win the senate seat where she sits today.
Moore is quick to say that she is in this job for the important work she knows needs to be done. Issues close to hear heart include women’s health, hunger, and a fair minimum wage. Senator Moore even took a job at Target for a summer working for minimum wage in order to gain perspective while fighting to raise the minimum wage in Connecticut to $15.
Early in her career, before taking political office, Moore spent five years working with Planned Parenthood. She saw first-hand just how critical the work done at this agency is to the lives of women and the community and it led her to found her own non-profit. The Witness Project of Connecticut brings breast cancer screenings to underserved populations. Since 2002, this organization has coordinated over 4,000 mammograms and provided education to thousands more in southern Connecticut.
Through her work with The Witness Project, Moore began to realize there was another pernicious issue facing women in underserved areas. While the education programs were teaching women the benefits of eating a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, Moore realized that many of the women participating were limited to what was available at their corner store. This did not include fresh fruits and vegetables. Together with the city of Bridgeport department of health, Moore fought to bring better food choices to the cities many small markets. Through this work, the Bridgeport Food Policy Council was born.
Moving on from there, Moore became the Connecticut Ambassador for Food Solutions New England and organization that strives to make New England food self-reliant by 50% by the year 2060.
In her political career, Moore makes it her business to represent people who will never have a voice in the state capitol. Early on she brought her old SNAP cards to Hartford, from her days on food assistance at age 19, to show her colleagues that you simply never know who might need a lift now and then.
As the only African American woman in the Connecticut Senate, Moore truly represents an underserved voice. All along, through the many bumps along the road, and through more than one leap of faith that have brought her to where she is today, she says she has always felt that God had her and she is owning that responsibility. Remaining open to the journey laid before her has allowed Senator Moore to feel, even in the face of defeat, that she has never really failed.
“I truly believe that everything is possible,” she says. In this statement she includes even the present political environment in which the US finds itself under the direction of the new administration. Moore has some uncertainty about the future of things but offers an uplifting perspective. “People have to come together,” she says. Under this contentious administration, she sees people doing just that. All across the country groups are uniting to stand up to against a common cause. The movement is picking up momentum and it won’t stop. Meanwhile, Senator Moore and others like her across the country will continue to work hard for all those who need a voice in the halls of power.