By Keith Ellison. "I raised my right hand and placed my left on the Quran, which was being held by my wife and mom. Suddenly I was blinded by a cascade of camera flashes." Keith Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress. In fact, the first nonwhite that Minnesota has ever elected to Congress. That wasn’t why he ran, however. Quite simply, he entered politics because he wanted to make a difference—to contribute to the future of his children, his community, and his country.
This memoir, while filled with delightful family anecdotes and Ellison’s personal recollections, is far more than that. Ellison speaks from the heart, talking about the ever-changing face of America: his “sweet land of liberty.” In his own family, he sees an illustration of what makes America great. In three generations, his father’s family went from slavery to respected professionals. And while being black is a source of pride for the family, they also acknowledge being a “melting pot”: Ellison ancestors include a white French-Creole merchant and his African-born slave mistress, a Spaniard, and even a Croatian. And he sees in them freedom of religion and expression. The Ellisons have room to love and respect not just a Muslim but also a Baptist, a couple of Catholics, and even an agnostic.
Ellison talks candidly of himself and his dreams, his conversion to Islam, and how important his faith is to him. He is proud of his political role in pursuing justice for Muslim Americans whose constitutional rights are being imperiled by bigotry and ignorance. He dreams of his daughter growing into an independent, all- American woman who is also Muslim. But he emphasizes how his private beliefs play no part in his politics, because upholding the separation of church and state is fundamental to who he is.
Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing (2014), English, Softcover: 304 pages.
About the Author
Keith Ellison is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He is the first Black Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress and the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota. He is also the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the organizers behind the 1995 Million Man March.