Sen. Simmons with round table discussion participants.From Left to Right: Maria Drell, Senator Mike Simmons, Kahinde Longmire, Trez Pugh, Gabby Tewodros, KJ Whitehead

CHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons hosted his inaugural “In Conversation with Senator Mike Simmons” with Black leaders in honor of Black History Month:

“In honor of Black History Month, I hosted several Black leaders living and working in the 7th District for a discussion regarding what Black identity and excellence means in 2024 and beyond,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “As the first Black person to represent the 7th District on Chicago’s north side, I feel a responsibility to reflect with the community on what that means for the many communities I represent.”

The roundtable discussion included:

  • Kahinde Longmire, Principal at McCutcheon Elementary School
  • Trez Pugh, Founder and CEO of Sip & Savor Coffee House
  • KJ Whitehead, Comedian and Activist
  • Maria Drell, Founder and President of the Brazilian Cultural Center

“To be Black is something near and dear to me, something that makes me feel unique,” KJ Whitehead shared. “To be Black is to be sacred.”

“To be a person proud of your heritage, you should be able to control your own image,” said Maria Drell.

“I’m the first person of African ancestry to serve as State Senator for the 7th District,” said Simmons. “I’m trying to set a whole new paradigm for what robust and inclusive representation can look like, and leave that example and legacy for the next generation of political leaders.”

State Senator Mike Simmons looks forward to establishing this as an annual event growing this convening to include even more members of the Black diaspora within the 7th District.