Jamilah Lemieux has cut her teeth in the trenches of online digital publishing and cultural commentary to establish herself as a notable, coveted voice for the Black millennial generation and progressive-minded women. From starting her career as an independent blogger and contributing writer, she parlayed her unique perspective and media savvy into taking over the helm at major media corporations.
In 2011, Lemieux was tapped by the legendary Ebony magazine to revitalize its website and content as a senior editor. After a noteworthy tenure for several years, she transitioned her expertise into vice president of News and Men’s Programming for Interactive One, spearheading the newly created Cassius in 2016.
In addition, her cultural commentary has been featured on platforms including CNN, MSNBC, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
As a proud alumna of Howard University, she has a strong relationship with HBCU culture and is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Last Friday, the media maven announced in an Instagram post that she was taking her wealth of knowledge and using it to back Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren by contributing her skill sets and leading a Warren campaign HBCU tour.
Elizabeth Warren has made HBCU advocacy and harnessing the Black millennial voice cornerstones in her 2020 presidential bid. D'shawna Bernard, national director of Black outreach for the Warren campaign, told Blavity: “Elizabeth was one of the first candidates to lay out — in detail — how we give young, Black voters a head start through investing a minimum of $50 billion in HBCUs, cancelling 95% of student debt for the people who have it which will narrow the Black-white wealth gap.”
Blavity spoke with Lemieux about her reasons for supporting Elizabeth Warren and her plans for the Warren HBCU tour.
Blavity: Why do you support Elizabeth Warren for president?
Jamilah Lemieux: Elizabeth has the most comprehensive, inclusive and intentional platform for Black America, period. When it came down to it, Elizabeth was the candidate I knew would and has centered my existence in this country as a Black woman. She’s deliberate about investing in our communities and putting power in the hands of everyday people — that means a great deal to me.
Blavity: How is Warren supporting Black students specifically? How are you helping her in doing that?
JL: As a national surrogate, I’m helping the campaign engage communities near and dear to my heart — Black women, millennials and HBCUs. I’m a Howard University alumna, so I know that I exist in a very unique space to be able to use my voice in communities, like HBCUs and the Black communities they anchor, that Elizabeth’s may not be able to.
She’s placed an emphasis on investing in education for Black students, not just when they get to college, but starting with high-quality universal child care and Pre-K to K-12 to apprenticeships and free two year, four-year public college. She has a plan to put $800 billion in our public schools to ensure every kid gets a high-quality public education no matter the color of their skin or the zip code they live in, but recognizing that we need to pay particular attention to Black families that have been locked out for too long. A big part of that plan requires states to fund schools more progressively and equitably and dismantling the practices that keep our schools segregated.
She will also invest a minimum of $50 billion in our HBCUs. She will cancel student loan debt and help close the racial wealth gap, provide free two year and four-year public college and invest $100 billion in Pell Grants so every kid can graduate debt free. On day one of her presidency, Elizabeth will launch an investigation to look into racial disparities in our higher education system.
Elizabeth is a former teacher, so she gets it. I’m going to spend my time meeting students and talking to them about how Elizabeth will invest in Black kids and students from beginning to end.
Blavity: What is the mission of the HBCU dorm storm and what role will you be playing?
JL: The Warren campaign is launching the HBCU dorm storms to not only highlight her vision for Black communities, and students specifically, but to really get them engaged in this election. We can’t afford to sit back and not have a hand in this political process because our voices are too important not to be heard. Our issues are America's issues and deserve to be a central part of, not just Elizabeth’s campaign, but the campaigns of every candidate running for any office. More immediately I’ll be helping the campaign engage with voters across Texas and Tennessee for Get Out the Vote events and discussions and to really help generate that excitement for Elizabeth that we’re seeing across the country. In Texas, we’ll be visiting Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College, Lane College and Lemoyne-Owen College in Tennessee.
Blavity: What do you hope students get out of it?
JL: I really hope that students realize that their voices are powerful and needed, not just in politics but in life. And I’m hoping they come away from the events not just excited to participate in 2020, but excited for what a President Elizabeth Warren will do for them and folks that look like them.
Blavity: Why do you think Black millennials, in particular, should support Warren for president?
JL: I think Black millennials should support Elizabeth because she doesn’t take anyone’s vote for granted. She does the work, she listens and she has a plan to make sure that Black millennials, the Black community and all people have the opportunities to succeed in this world and flourish, which is what we all ultimately want.
We're excited to see all Ms. Lemieux is about to bring to Warren's campaign. In the meantime, check out the Op-Ed Warren wrote exclusively for Blavity on why HBCUs are worth the investment.