A professional journalist and an emerging writer, Jen Ehidiamen is committed to exploring and using the media as an advocacy tool for youth development and empowerment. She writes a column called “Dis Generation” in The Nation newspaper and blogs at Youths Making Change. Jen is CP-Africa’s Features Editor.
Okenfe Lebarty is currently the democratic candidate for New York State Assembly District 31 in Queens. On what inspired him to run for office he said “I looked at the community and noticed every immigrant group in the US have some form of political representation. We all know that political representation brings about power and resources for your community and these resources far expands outside of the district you represent… Africans sit on the sidelines and think someone else can do it. We believe we go home, build a mansion and that is it. We forget this is also our home now…”
Lebarty is ready to bring liberty to New Yorkers, and set example for others of African origin in the upcoming district election. “I want to show them we have Africans who are ready, who are willing and able to contest elections in the US and by God’s grace we will make it happen.”
The election is in September but as part of the requirement Lebarty needs 500 signatures for petitioning period to make the ballot. “The response has been great!” he said.
Does the perceived negative image of Nigeria not deter people from endorsing him? “I don’t think about that. If I do it will serve as a detriment and hindrance. It is not a matter of what other people have done, it is about what I am going to do to make a difference in my community.”
Okenfe Lebarty was born in Nigeria but relocated to New York with his family as a teenager. He attended Far Rockaway High School and went on to Brooklyn College (CUNY) where he received his B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Urban Policy & Administration. He has a diverse experience in advocacy and is currently the Executive Director for the University Student Senate, City University of New York (CUNY). Read more about Okenfe for Assembly District 31
UPDATE: CP-AFRICA JUST GOT WORD THAT MR. OKENFE LEBARTY HAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE RACE DUE TO LACK OF ADEQUATE FUNDS. YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE.