When Zulfat Suara, an African Muslim woman who emigrated to Tennessee, decided to run for public office, she was prepared to face opposition. What she didn’t expect was that some of the people who became her greatest champions were the ones anyone would have expected to vote against her. In this TEDx Talk, Zulfat describes how her story is not about how she overcame impossible odds to become the first Black Muslim woman to be elected to public office in the state of Tennessee, but rather it is about building power and how the differences between her and her community were a source of strength.
Zulfat was elected as an at large council member in 2019. With over 34,000 votes from a very diverse population she became the first Muslim elected to the Metropolitan Govt. of Nashville and Davidson County and the first immigrant elected to an at-large position. She is the first Muslim woman elected in the State of Tennessee and first Nigerian woman elected to any office in the US.
She started the Hardeman County Junior Achievement and continues to advocate for children as a board member of the PENCIL Foundation. Zulfat has served in a number of leadership positions, including Chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council and State President of the Business and Professional Women. She is active politically as treasurer of the National Women’s Political Caucus and chair of the TN Women’s Day on the Hill. Zulfat is a CPA and Asst. Controller at Meharry Medical College. She is married to her wonderful husband of 29 years- Dr. Rahaman Suara. They are blessed with five amazing children. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx