Growing up, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens did not believe in voting or politics, but in 2020 she found herself in a historical position doing what she knew she’d always do: serve her community.
Eastpointe, MI is often noted for its past with systemic racism but Mayor Owens, the first Black mayor of the city, aims to change the city’s image by giving young people a voice by using her work to provide resources for them to accomplish their goals.
Mayor Owens previously served as a deputy at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department for 11 years. She was also a member of Eastpointe’s City Council, which led to her becoming the mayor of the city in 2019.
“Growing up in a place where you were told not to do something and you break that barrier and do it anyway and excel speaks volumes,” said Owens. “I am hoping to inspire the next generation of politicians by mentoring more minorities on becoming elected officials and showing them how to do it and be successful. Not just adults, but our youth.”
Calling on Eastpointe residents to get involved, Mayor Owens said, “Come to your city council meetings and find out who is governing your community.”
“I want to create laws to help others excel, to make sure that people have jobs, to make sure that people have fairness and equality,” She continued.
Though she’s found a position of power as the first Black woman mayor of Eastpointe, Owens said that the position does present its challenges. As a young, Black woman, Owens finds that sometimes her policies aren’t taken seriously.
In an inclusive effort to encourage all ages in the political process, Mayor Owens is working on a children’s political book to help youth understand politics at a young age and to further show them that they can become the change they want to see. The book, Mom, What’s A Mayor?, is about educating children on what the role of a mayor is and the steps to become one. She hopes it will teach young children how to make their voices heard.
“I want to teach them that if you don’t like who is in charge, you can be in charge,” Mayor Owens said. “I have two daughters. Seeing their mom excel will encourage them to grow up [to be] even more appreciative of who they are, where they come from, and where they’re going. You might have the next President of the United States in one of my daughters.”
On January 20, Vice President Kamala Harris made history as the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected to the position. Many Black women are hopeful of what this means for the future of our nation and the future of our leaders.
“Seeing change from the top with Vice President Harris was motivation that we can break barriers as Black women, even during a pandemic.” said Detroit resident Jocelyn Pyles.
For Mayor Owens, Vice President Harris is the beginning of a new era of representation in America.
“[Vice President Harris] is going to make people take my daughters seriously. Her being the VP shows that we can do what everybody else can do, if not better. Showing that women can be leaders and being the first Black woman [in the position] is powerful.”