Home News+Pop Culture Washington representative celebrates heritage by wearing a hanbok at swearing in

Washington representative celebrates heritage by wearing a hanbok at swearing in

Among the most diverse Congress in history, Rep. Mariyln Strickland, D-Wash., honored her heritage by wearing a traditional Korean hanbok. 

Strickland is the first African American to represent Washington state at the federal level and one of the first Korean-American women ever elected to Congress. Born in Seoul, her parents met when her father was stationed in South Korea after he fought in World War II. 

“It is something that you wear for a very special occasion. It is very traditional and historic,” Strickland said to NBC about wearing a hanbok. “I wanted to honor my mother. And because of her age and COVID, she was not able to travel out here. I knew that she’d be watching, and so I wanted her to see me wearing that, to honor my history and to honor her.” 

Republican Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel, both serving parts of Orange County, California, join Strickland as the first Korean-born members of Congress. Strickland put the feat into perspective for Politico. 

“We are not where we need to be as far as representation goes on the Hill, both will female representation and people of color, but it’s a big step forward.”

As she begins her time in Congress, her parents’ values inspire her to this day. 

“My parents endured discrimination and hardships that I cannot imagine,” Strickland said. “They wanted me to have opportunities they were denied and taught me to work hard, fight for what’s right, serve the community and to stand up for the underdog.” 

Growing up, Strickland attended Tacoma public schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Washington and an MBA from Clark-Atlanta University. Before joining Congress, she led Tacoma out of a recession as mayor. Successful initiatives included raising the minimum wage, passing paid sick leave, raising the high school graduation rate and prioritizing air, water and health improvement. 

Strickland was projected as the winner of her race on November 4, 2020. Representing Washington’s District 10, she will serve the west central part of the state that encompasses Thurston, Pierce and Mason counties.

“I want every South Sound resident to know that whether they voted for me or not, I will listen to you,” Strickland said upon her win. “It’s time to work with my colleagues in our delegation, our party and, yes, across the aisle to address the urgent issues facing our nation and South Sound families and workers: Tackling this pandemic, rebuilding our economy and creating jobs in the Sound, fighting for affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, addressing climate change and keeping our promises to our military families and veterans.”

Haley Bosselmanhttps://haleybosselman.wordpress.com/
Haley Bosselman is the former editor-in-chief of Culturas. She holds degrees in journalism from Arizona State University and the University of Southern California. Based in Los Angeles, she writes about arts, entertainment and culture.
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