Missouri Is Likely to Get First Female Muslim Legislator

Yaphett El-Amin won the Democratic nomination in the 57th District and is unopposed in the general election; she hopes to build

August 19, 2002



Yaphett El-Amin knows about working through adversity.



As a young woman and recent college graduate counseling young men in juvenile detention, she thought she was giving back to her community.



Then her home was robbed, perhaps by some of the same people she was trying to help. The incident gave her pause. But instead of letting the experience drive her from her home, she became committed to involvement in her St. Louis neighborhood.

Now, the winner in an upset in the 57th District Democratic race for state representative - who will be the first known female Muslim to serve in the Missouri House - she will get a chance to further test her grit in the Legislature.

El-Amin, the 1st Ward Democratic committeewoman since 1997, handily beat her opponent, Ocie B. Johnson, this month in the primary election. The vote was 2,333 to 1,832, or 56 to 44 percent. Johnson was endorsed by Mayor Francis Slay. El-Amin will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Rodney R. Hubbard, who also is Muslim, won the Democratic nomination in the 58th District. Hubbard will run in November against Republican candidate Isaiah Hair Jr., who was unopposed in the primary. The two districts traditionally have been Democratic.

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El-Amin said last week in an interview: "When I first filed for the seat, I viewed it as something that I had to do. This was not a district that we could afford to give away to anyone that wasn't committed to strengthening our community.

"Securing the Democratic nomination for this seat was more of a confirmation for me that our people knew and desired someone with a strong voice that's not going to stop speaking for them in Jefferson City."

The voice that will now speak for the 57th District began developing several blocks from the northernmost boundary of the district.

Yaphett El-Amin was born and grew up in a lower-middle-class home on Park Lane near Riverview Boulevard and West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis. She attended St. Louis public schools until the early 1980s when, through the desegregation program, she was bused to Washington Junior High School in south St. Louis County and then Mehlville High School. She graduated in 1989.

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