Bangladeshi-American Nabilah Islam becomes first Muslim in Georgia State Senate

Nabilah Islam Photo: Twitter @nabilahislam

In the battleground state of Georgia, a South Asian American made a political breakthrough in the midterm elections.

Nabilah Islam, 30, whose parents immigrated from Bangladesh, was elected Nov. 8, 2022, to the State Senate from Georgia’s 7th District.

Islam secured 52.8 percent of the vote to her opponent Josh McKay’s 47.2 percent, according to Ballotpedia. She had been endorsed by most major progressive organizations including Emily’s List, NARAL: Pro Choice Georgia, Asian American Advocacy Fund.

“We won with 53% of the vote in a challenging year. Our margin of victory is a testament to our brilliant team & hard working volunteers. We ran a strong campaign & fought hard. My sincerest thank you to the voters who put their trust in me to be their voice in the State Senate,” Islam tweeted upon her victory.

Born and brought up in Gwinnett County, Islam describes herself on her eponymous website as “a lifelong fighter, organizer, and community advocate dedicated to advancing Democratic causes and values.” Islam is a small business owner.

A political activist since at least 2016, Islam worked on campaigns at state and national level. At the national level, Islam worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign and later at the Democratic National Committee. At the DNC, she helped fundraise for candidates in the 2018 elections. In 2016 she was awarded the Future is Blue Award by the Atlanta Young Democrats.

In 2020, she served as a Senior Advisor to the Gwinnett Democratic Party where she helped lead outreach to Vietnamese, Korean, and Latino communities. During the critical Senate runoffs, Islam led an organization called Save Our Senate, which knocked on over 34,000 doors, turning out Black and Brown voters across Gwinnett for Senators Ossoff and Warnock, her website says. She was also appointed President of IPAC an organization dedicated to getting out the Muslim American vote, where she is credited with reaching out to 60,000 registered Muslims voters across the state.

A student of Georgia public schools and Georgia State University, Islam grew up in Norcross and Lawrenceville, and worked at a luggage store in Peachtree Corners to put herself through university.

Nabilah Islam, first Muslim woman elected to Georgia State Senate, Nov. 8, 2022. Photo: Twitter @nabilahislam

The daughter of working-class immigrants, Islam’s biography and her responses to candidate questions from Ballotpedia, notes how she watched her parents work long hours and live paycheck to paycheck to put food on the table. When she was in high school, her mother was injured at the warehouse she worked at as an order puller. Islam navigated the insurance coverage to get her mother covered, and “saw firsthand the devastating effects our broken healthcare system can have on families” the website says. “Like millions of Americans, Nabilah owes nearly $30,000 in student loans-and like nearly 20 percent of her district, she has no health insurance,” her Ballotpedia response says.

Following the murder of George Floyd and amidst calls for racial justice across the nation, Islam partnered with now-Gwinnett County Commissioner Kirkland Carden to demand the removal of the county’s last remaining Confederate monument, which had been placed just steps away from the site of the lynching of Charles Hale. The monument was taken down.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here