- 1 Background
- 2 Education
- 3 Early connections
- 4 Career
- 5 Congress
- 6 Possible New Member of the Progressive Caucus After 2010 Elections
- 7 Tenure
- 8 Congressional Black Caucus
- 9 ARA endorsement
- 10 Medicaid expansion
- 11 PDA contact
- 12 Nelson Mandela's funeral
- 13 South Korea, China, Japan Trip
- 14 Bingo bust
- 15 Funding Alabama State Association of Cooperatives
- 16 Backing Kallon
- 17 New Democrat Coalition, 113th Congress
- 18 CAIR delegation
- 19 Backing Doug Jones
- 20 Staff
- 21 References
Terrycina Andrea "Terri" Sewell (born January 1, 1965) is the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 7th Congressional District. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She has served as the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 7th Congressional District since 2011.
Terri Sewell served as Co-Chair of the Women’s Fund “Voices Against Violence” inaugural campaign, which promoted women helping women to overcome domestic violence. The campaign raised more than $70,000 in four months to fight domestic violence in Birmingham, providing funds to establish the first Domestic Violence Court in Birmingham Municipal Court. Sewell led the effort to have Teach for America select Alabama’s Black Belt region as a new site in 2010.
Sewell has served on numerous boards including: St. Vincent’s Foundation (elected Treasurer of the Board and Chair of its Finance Committee); Girl Scouts of Cahaba Council; the Alabama Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society; the Community Advisory Board for the UAB Minority Health and Research Center; the Governing Board of the Alabama Council on Economic Education; and she is a member of the Corporate Partners Council for Birmingham Art Museum.
Sewell was listed in Alabama Super Lawyers for 2008 and 2009 and was honored with the 2007 Minority Business “Rising Star” award by the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ). She was also selected by the BBJ as one of the “Top Birmingham Women” in 2005. She was a member of the class of 2006-2007 Leadership Birmingham, a member of the YWCA’s Women Leadership MOMENTUM class of 2007-2008. She is currently a member of the class of 2008-2009 Leadership Alabama.
Sewell is a lifetime member of Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma and currently worships at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham. She was also selected to participate on the panel, "From Lincoln to Obama," for the Congressional Black Caucus' Annual Legislative Forum to discuss Southern politics.
The first black valedictorian of Selma High School, Terri Sewell attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1986. Terri was awarded a Marshall/Commonwealth Scholarship and received a Master's Degree with first class Honors from Oxford University in 1988.
A lifelong Democrat, during the summers while in college, Sewell worked on Capitol Hill for 7th Congressional District Congressman Richard Shelby, as well as for then Alabama Senator Howell Heflin. She served in various roles including Class Vice-President, Class Representative to the Student Union and spearheading the admission office’s effort to set up a Minority Student Recruitment office to recruit and encourage more minority students to attend the university.
Her friendship with Kirsten Gillibrand goes back so far that Sewell calls New York’s junior senator by an old nickname: “Tina.” And nearly 30 years ago, Sewell recruited Susan Rice, the woman who would go on to become National Security Adviser, to join a gospel choir.
Sewell’s youthful encounters with future prominent leaders are notable, even for the standards of the Ivy League schools she attended. But the self-described “little girl from Selma” says a greater force was at work.
“As a Southerner steeped in the church, I do believe in divine intervention,” Sewell told CQ Roll Call.
Sewell grew up in the Deep South in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement. She came from a modest background in an economically poor region. Her mom was the librarian and her dad coached basketball and taught math at the local public high school, where Sewell was selected as the first black valedictorian in 1982.
She describes her freshman year at Princeton University as brutally tough, saying she felt as if she was “playing a fast game of catch-up” among students groomed at Andover and Phillips Exeter.
But she also points to that time as the pivotal moment in her trajectory.
“I got my ticket stamped by going to Princeton,” she said. “That was the ticket that sent me on my way.”
Sewell added, “If I didn’t make it, they would never, ever have another person from Selma into Princeton again.”
To guide students like Sewell through the transition, Princeton matched minority freshmen with upper classmen mentors.
Sewell assumed her “Big Sis” would be another black student she knew from Alabama. Instead, a different woman entered her mentor match meeting.
“In walks my Big Sister, and it’s Michelle Robinson,” Sewell said, laughing as she described her first encounter with the woman who would later become first lady of the United States. “That’s the first thing I thought, ‘Oh, she’s really tall.’ … I can remember it like it’s yesterday.”
Sewell described Robinson as one of the most popular and connected students on campus, thanks to the fact that her older brother, Craig Robinson, was a star basketball player. (He went on to coach college teams.)
After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Sewell earned a Marshall/Commonwealth Scholarship at Oxford University. While there, she struck up a friendship with Rice, then a Rhodes Scholar.
She, Rice, and a handful of black female Oxford students had a standing lunch every Friday at a local restaurant, The Nosebag.
The pair pursued their passions at Oxford. For Sewell, it was performing on stage; for Rice, it was basketball.
Sewell produced, directed and starred in a play titled “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf.”
The play called for a cast of seven African American women. Sewell held auditions over a Monday and Tuesday, but only one person showed up. With her play falling apart, she went to her regular lunch with the Nosebag crew.
“Friday comes and, I walk in, and I’m like, ‘Oh hell, here is the rest of my play,’” she said.
Rice told CQ Roll Call in an interview she still remembers being recruited for the gig, “along with several others of us that she forced into service.”
“It was my first and only acting experience,” Rice said. “It was a heck of a lot of fun.”
Another Rhodes Scholar named Ben Sherwood also chipped in to help with the production. These days he is the co-president of the Disney/ABC Television Group.
Sewell also talked Rice into what she now describes as “probably, the first-ever and maybe the last gospel choir at Oxford.”
After Oxford, Sewell followed Robinson on to Harvard Law School. By the time Sewell arrived in Cambridge, her former Big Sis already had graduated and returned to Chicago.
A photo hangs in Sewell’s congressional office of the black students in her law class. It includes a litany of future administration officials, judges and former “CSI: New York” star Hill Harper. Then there’s the guy who would one day become the nation’s first black president.
The congresswoman sheepishly concedes that the 20-something Barack Obama wasn’t the person from that group she would have imagined would go on to lead the free world. He was the second-most likely.
“If I could say what makes the difference between the person I thought could have been the first black president in this picture, and the one who is, the difference is Michelle Obama,” Sewell said.
She describes Robinson as “truly a people person,” while Obama is “much more of an introvert than people assume he is, because he’s a politician,” adding, “They balance each other.”
Little did Sewell know that her two friends would begin dating, and when she found out they were getting married, “I couldn’t believe it … it was so fortuitous. … Two worlds colliding.”
Sewell began work in 1994 in New York City at Davis Polk & Wardwell, one of the most elite law firms in the country.
She met Tina Rutnik, a young litigator who was enthusiastic about squash, tennis and Hillary Clinton. Sewell describes the woman as having “a lot of balls.” They formed a fast friendship and Sewell joined her new pal as she hosted a young women lawyers event for Clinton at the Russian Tea Room. It was Sewell’s first political contribution.
But both women eventually made their way back to their homes in Alabama and Upstate New York and lost touch. But one fall day, Sewell’s secretary announced a call: “There’s a Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand on the line.”
They chatted, with Sewell confused about why the woman on the other line was talking her up as a possible female congressional recruit while on speakerphone with other female members in the room.
Then Gillibrand took the call off speakerphone and asked, “Terri, you don’t know who this is, do you?”
“Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand … ” Sewell responded.
The rest of the exchange went something like this.
“Terri! It’s Tina!”
“Tina Rutnik? You’re in Congress? Your name is Kirsten? Who is Gillibrand?!”
Sewell shouts for emphasis as she retells the moment from six years ago.
Both Gillibrand and Rice personally donated to Sewell’s campaign, but Rice, then serving as ambassador to the United Nations, was limited because of her role in the executive branch.
As for Gillibrand, the pair often team up for legislation. “We have a certain innate trust for each other,” Gillibrand said. “We know where we both came from. I have a certain level of confidence in her that she knows what she’s talking about.”
After graduation, Terri Sewell served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Chief Judge U.W. Clemon, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, in Birmingham. She began her legal career at the prestigious law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York City, where she was a successful securities lawyer for more than a decade. Upon returning home to Alabama in 2004, she "has made a significant impact both professionally and through her community activities."
Prior to her election to Congress, Sewell was a partner in the Birmingham law office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. where she distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. Her clients included, among others, City of Selma, Dallas County Water Authority, Alabama State University, Stillman College, Jefferson State and Wallace State-Hanceville.
In 2012, Congresswoman Sewell sat on the House Committee on Agriculture as well as the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. She is also served as the Democratic Freshman Class President and as both a Regional and Senior Whip. 
In 2014, Sewell sits on the House Committee on Financial Services, serving on the subcommittees of Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises and Domestic and International Monetary Policy and Trade. She is also sitting on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, while serving on the subcommittee of Technical and Tactical Intelligence (T&T). She is a also a member in good standing with the Congressional Black Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition. Congresswoman Sewell was selected by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to serve as one of his Chief Deputy Whips for the Democratic Party in the 113th Congress.
Possible New Member of the Progressive Caucus After 2010 Elections
According to David Dayden writing on the leftist blog FireDogLake: "What about the ones who won? Democrats picked up three seats from Republicans, making good on some prior anomalies and realigning correctly. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02) and John Carney (DE-AL) all won. Of those, I would say Hanabusa and Richmond will join the Progressive Caucus. In AL-07, Terri Sewell replaced Artur Davis. She’s a lot more progressive than he ever was, and she will likely join the caucus. David Cicilline (RI-01), the replacement for Patrick Kennedy and another openly gay member of Congress, is likely to join (Patrick Kennedy never did). The race that a progressive lost in a primary, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI-13), was over ethical issues, and she’ll be replaced by Hansen Clarke, likely to join the caucus.
Since taking office, Sewell has voted with her party 91% of the time and she is an avid supporter of President Obama's policies. Sewell has established herself as a loyal Democrat and Progressive with a focus on job creation. Her viewpoint is redistributionist in nature.
Sewell supported President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for low and middle-income Americans, but would not take a stance on taxation for high-income Americans. In response to Obama's Framework for Business Tax Reform, Sewell said: "I applaud the President for outlining a bold framework for reforming the U.S. business tax system."
Terri Sewell has also criticized Presidential nominee Mitt Romney's tax returns and effective tax rates, saying "… It should be about shared responsibility. I think that something is fundamentally wrong if a person of his great wealth is only paying 13.9 percent effective tax rate and most of Americans are paying 28, 30 percent and they make far less.”
Sewell supported Obama's decisions regarding Afghanistan, citing "trust" for his policies. She also was part of a bi-partisan delegation to accompany Nancy Pelosi on a 2-day trip to Afghanistan in May 2012. While there, they spent time "with American service-members and meeting local officials to discuss security and women’s issues."
Congressional Black Caucus
On December 10 2013, Alabama's 7th District Congresswoman Terri Sewell released a press release "Statement from Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Urging the State of Alabama to Expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act".
We are delighted that she has joined with Progressive Democrats of America, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and the Birmingham Metro Chapter of the NAACP to urge Governor Bentley to accept federal Medicaid funds and has herewith shown her convictions on this issue.
In 2013 Progressive Democrats of America assigned activists to deliver their material to almost every US Congressman and Senator, Tracey Cavadal and later Daniel Turner of the Tuscaloosa Democratic Socialists of America Organizing Committee, was assigned as the contact for Rep. Sewell.
Nelson Mandela's funeral
In December 2013, the following Democratic legislators traveled to South Africa to attended Nelson Mandela's funeral Democrats Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.); and Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge, John Conyers (Mich.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.), John Lewis, Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mel Watt (N.C.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (Tex.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio) and Terri Sewell (Ala.).
South Korea, China, Japan Trip
"All of them are symbolic figures in the 113th Congress in terms of representing minority groups," a source said. "Also, they have a good understanding on Korea."
Gillibrand is said to have the potential to become a political star like Hillary Clinton, one of her close associates.
Hirono, a Buddhist born in Japan, is the first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Meng, a Chinese-American, is the first Asian-American from New York to be elected to Congress.
Sewell is the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama.
"We want attention to the crisis that is going on," Carol Zippert, a committee member said.
The group feels the state violated their voting rights by shutting down the bingo halls they voted for and passed in 2003. Attorney General Luther Strange says illegal gaming was taking place.
"That had gone too far. Our voting rights mean too much to us for folks to just say well yeah you voted for it but it doesn't mean a thing," Zippert said.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell's office requested the U.S. Attorney General's office look into possible voting rights violations. We're told over the past few weeks a representative from Attorney General Eric Holder's office spent time investigating in Greene County.
"I think its really important that the voters of Greene County who voted to have electronic bingo have their voices heard," Sewell said. "And this has been very disturbing to me that we've had repeated raids in Greene County."
The civil rights committee is calling on everyone to stand up for whats's right.
"If they have issue with us then let's go to the court of law. That's part of our democracy in this country. That's all we're asking for," Zippert said.
Funding Alabama State Association of Cooperatives
Washington DC October 1, 2014, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $200,000 in grant funding to the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives. The funding will be used to expand support to cooperatives in the Black Belt and is part of the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG) program.
“I am pleased that the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives will receive this funding to continue its initiatives to create new opportunities for disadvantaged farmers in Alabama’s Black Belt Region,” said Rep. Sewell. “The funding will also allow the association to provide continuous support to the farming industry by serving as a means of sustainability and survival for many communities in the Black Belt.
“We will work to improve marketing and business practices for participants so we can raise the income of these producers,” Zippert said. “We welcome the producers in the 7th Congressional District to contact us for assistance because the goal is to help as many people as possible.”
We made our feelings about that nomination clear in a post titled "Obama nominates Alabama federal judge Abdul Kallon to open seat on U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, proving incompetence still has its rewards."
Since the nomination Obama and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) have misused high-minded rhetoric in an effort to convince the public that nominating Kallon is a wise decision. The public should not fall for it.
Obama said "Judge Kallon has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions.” With all due respect to the president, for whom I have voted twice, that is bulls--t.
Rep. Sewell said: "What an awesome nomination! So excited [that] President Obama nominated Judge Kallon for the US Court Of Appeals. Judge Kallon has the integrity, keen legal acumen, and judicial temperament to make him a highly qualified appellate jurist!”
Sewell also said, "This historic nomination could appoint the first African American from Alabama to this appellate bench." 
New Democrat Coalition, 113th Congress
- Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Birmingham, AL, 5/4/2017 - CAIR-Alabama, the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), led a delegation of five Alabamian Muslims to meet with Congress members and staff on issues important to American Muslims and other minority communities. The delegation joined over 400 delegates from 30 states who met with some 230 elected officials and congressional staff on Monday and Tuesday, during the record-breaking third annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
The largest congressional Muslim advocacy event in the country, Muslim Hill Day was sponsored by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local American Muslim organizations of which CAIR is a founding member.
Alabama’s delegation met with Representatives Terri Sewell and Gary Palmer, and with congressional staff from the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Luther Strange and Representatives Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby. “In this divisive political climate where reaching an agreement on policy appears to be far fetched, Muslim Hill Day was more important than ever. Each person in our delegation had compelling personal stories to tell. We had constructive dialogue that achieved the real goal of having our voices heard. We hope our lawmakers felt better educated about serious issues facing our communities and policies that can assist in bettering the lives of all Alabamians," said CAIR-Alabama Executive Director Khaula Hadeed.
The delegates outlined the domestic priorities of the American Muslim community, advocating for an endorsement of all legislation pushing back against federal policies and programs wrongfully targeting Muslims. They also advocated for legislation supporting DREAMers and protecting the rights of immigrant and minority communities by ending racial and religious profiling. Specifically, delegates promoted a legislative agenda that includes support for:
• The SOLVE Act 2.0 (H.R. 724) – Declares that the Muslim Ban 2.0 is “null and void, shall have no force and effect, and may not be implemented or enforced” and prohibits federal funding of the executive order.
• Freedom of Religion Act of 2017 (H.R. 852) – Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide that non-American citizens may not be denied admission or entry to the U.S., or other immigration benefits, because of their religion, and for other purposes.
• No Religious Registry Act of 2017 (H.R. 489) – Ensures that individuals of all faiths are protected from the establishment of a national religious registry and prohibits surveilling certain U.S. persons and other individuals based on religious affiliation.
• S.248 – Blocks all federal funding for the Trump Administration’s first “Muslim Ban” executive order.
• Access to Counsel Act (S. 349) – Guarantees legal counsel to those detained on entry to the U.S., and clarifies the rights of all persons who are held or detained at a port of entry or at any detention facility overseen by CBP or ICE.
• Protect American Families Act (S. 54) – Would prohibit the creation of an immigration-related registry program that classifies people based on religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, nationality, or citizenship.
• The Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow our Economy Act (H.R. 496/S.128) – The BRIDGE Act would protect undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children, commonly referred to as DREAMers, should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued under the Trump Administration.
• The No State Resources for Immigration Enforcement (NSRIE) Act (H.R.1446) – Would amend section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Secure Communities Program, to prohibit state and local law enforcement officers and employees from performing the functions of an immigration officer in relation to “the investigation, apprehension, or detention” of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
• The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2017 (S. 411), and its companion bill introduced in the House, the End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1498) – These companion bills would effectively eliminate racial, religious, and other forms of discriminatory profiling by law enforcement.
Delegation members were David Gespass, CAIR-Alabama board chair Khaula Hadeed, CAIR-Alabama executive director Mohammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center Imam Ali Massoud, Ream Shoreibah, CAIR-Alabama communications director.
“By embracing its vision and mission, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has helped to strengthen American society and promote our nation’s highest ideals.”
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) (October 2017)
Backing Doug Jones
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell joined Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones December 10, 2017 at an historic Selma church as part of a home-stretch push for Tuesday's election.
The Jones campaign made another stop in Montgomery, where U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people at Alabama State University.
Booker, appearing with Jones and Sewell, talked about the plight of Alabama's poorest counties and quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.
"When it comes to the long hard march toward justice, nothing is given," Booker said. "King used to say that change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability. It has to be carried in on the backs of good folk. The opposite of justice is not injustice, it is indifference, it is inaction."
In Selma, Jones, Patrick, Sewell and Selma Mayor Darrio Melton appeared outside the Brown Chapel AME Church, where civil rights marchers gathered in 1965 to begin the trek across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.
As of August 2017;
Washington, D.C. Office
- Cachavious English-Legislative Director
- Chris MacKenzie-Press Secretar
- Perry Hamilton-Scheduler
- Hillary Beard-Legislative Assistant
- Rob Nuttall-Legislative Assistant
- Scott Harris -Staff Assistant/Legislative Correspondent
- Chasseny Lewis-District Director
- Oscar Berry-Deputy District Director/Outreach Coordinator
- Derrick Richardson-District Press Secretary
- Kaia Greene-Grants Coordinator/Constituent Services Representative
- Alberto Castillo-Constituent Services Representative
- Melinda Williams–Constituent Services Manager/Outreach Coordinator
- Shanna King-Constituent Services Representative
- Dianna Johnson–Constituent Services Representativ
- Kennard Randolph-Outreach Coordinator/Constituent Services Representative
- Official Congressional Bio, accessed September 6, 2011
- Official Congressional Bio, accessed September 6, 2011
- Sewell ’86 launches historic campaign for Congress The Daily Princetonian, Apr. 8, 2009
- official congressional bio, accessed September 6, 2011
- Roll Call, Six Degrees of Terri Sewell By Abby Livingston Posted at 5 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2014
- official congressional bio, accessed September 6, 2011
- Committees and Caucuses Congresswoman Terri Sewell, accessed Feb. 11, 2014
- FDL, Progressive Caucus Will Gain Members After Elections By: David Dayen Wednesday November 3, 2010
- Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) The Washington Post, January, 2011
- Rep. Sewell (D-AL) criticizes Romney tax rate; Rep. West (R-FL) says we need reform CNN, Jan. 24, 2012
- Pelosi leads delegation on Afghanistan visit The Hill, May 13, 2012
- Congressional Black Caucus: Members (accessed on Feb. 24, 2011)
- ARA endorsements 2012
- Rep. Terri's Sewell's Press Release on Medicaid/Gov Bentley Tuesday, 10 December 2013
- PDA May 2013 Educate Congress Digest Letter drops (191 in total – 105 in April )
- PDA June 2013 Educate Congress Digest
- The WaPo, Nelson Mandela memorial: Who’s in attendance, By Terri Rupar December 10, 2013
- Global Post, Four U.S. female lawmakers to visit S. Korea, August 21, 2013
- [http://www.wbtv.com/story/25314944/rep-terri-sewell-asks-us-attorney-general-to-investigate-greene-co-bingo-raids, Rep. Terri Sewell asks U.S. Attorney General to investigate Greene Co. bingo raids By Joshua Gauntt, Reporter]
- Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Announces Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant Awarded to the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives Oct 1, 2014
- NDC Member List
- CAIR: Alabama Muslims Lobby Congress on Record Breaking Muslim Advocacy DayLast Updated: May 05, 2017
- [ https://sewell.house.gov/meet-terri/meet-my-staff]