Loyola University Chicago

Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Councilmember Andrea Jenkins

On Thursday, February 25, 2021 the Loyola University Chicago was visited by Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins in conversation with Shay Collins, President of Loyola SDMA. 

In 2017, Andrea Jenkins made history, becoming the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Representing Ward 8 and serving as Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council, Jenkins came to politics in order to fight systemic racism, transphobia, and inequity.

An educator, poet, artist, and activist, Jenkins has a long history of working to upfit the voices of marginalized communities. Jenkins was born and raised in North Lawndale, Chicago and moved to Minnesota in 1979 where she worked as a Vocational Counselor for Hennepin County for a decade. Jenkins also worked staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before becoming the curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota, where she works to document the lived experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the Upper Midwest and the United States. She is the author of three poetry books: Tributaries: Poems Celebrating Black History, Pieces of A Scream, and her latest, The T is Not Silent. 

She holds a master’s degree in Community Development from Southern New Hampshire University, a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and a Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Services from Metropolitan State University. Additionally, in 2018, Jenkins also completed Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a David Bohnett LGBTQ Victory Institute Leadership Fellow. 

In her 2017 victory speech, she stated the following: “As an out African American trans-identified woman, I know firsthand the feeling of being marginalized, left-out, thrown under the bus. Those days are over. We don’t just want a seat at the table—we want to set the table.” 

The Loyola Women's Studies and Gender Studies program with support of our co-sponsor were grateful to have assembled an audience of over 150 people from the Loyola community to learn from Jenkins' expertise and legacy. Jenkins and Collins discussed topics including civic engagement, the path forward for social change, addressing police brutality, living in the "gray zones" of nuance and curiosity—and so much more. Jenkins also treated the crowd to a selection of her poetry that celebrated the life of George Perry Floyd.

Click here to watch a recording of this spectacular event.