Meet Mandela Barnes
Mandela’s story is a uniquely American story. He was born in Milwaukee, in one of the most impoverished and incarcerated Zip codes in the state. A community starved of resources, but brimming with joy, resilience, and hardworking, brilliant people.
His mom was a Milwaukee school teacher for 30 years. His dad worked 3rd shift at the General Motors plant. They were both active union members organizing for better wages and defending workers’ rights. Their example showed him the importance of working hard and fighting for opportunity for everyone.
Mandela’s parents taught him the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of a good education. They also taught him we can’t settle for what is, we have to reach for what can be. These lessons led Mandela to graduate Milwaukee public high schools at 16, and earn a degree from Alabama A&M University.
Mandela Barnes currently serves as Wisconsin’s 45th Lt. Governor. He is the first African-American Lt. Governor of Wisconsin and only the second African-American to be elected statewide.
As Lt. Governor, Mandela has worked closely with Governor Evers to help Wisconsin recover from the pandemic. Mandela has been central to the campaign to encourage communities across the state to get vaccinated, traveling to urban and rural areas to energize Wisconsin’s recovery.
Governor Evers recognized Mandela’s expertise and years of work on environmental issues by appointing him as chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. The Task Force brought together a diverse coalition of farmers, environmental advocates, Indigenous leaders, and business executives to produce 55 concrete strategies for how Wisconsin can begin to address the climate crisis.
Sadly, politicians like Senator Ron Johnson are standing in the way of progress. Johnson has turned his back on Wisconsin, instead peddling wild conspiracy theories and cynical attacks that divide us for political gain.
Mandela is running for the United States Senate because when things get tough, we shouldn’t lower our expectations. Instead of changing our dreams, we need to change the game. Mandela will bring a new perspective to Washington, to fight for opportunity for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of their ZIP code.
Prior to serving as Lt. Governor, Mandela was elected to the State Assembly where he emerged as a champion on issues of the environment, economy, education, racial justice, and health care. He became the chair of the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus in his first term, became a national leader on gun violence prevention, and was recognized as one of the top pro-growth progressive leaders in the country. He also worked as a community organizer in Milwaukee and served as Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for the State Innovation Exchange, sharing progressive best practices with state legislatures across the country.
Mandela serves on the Governor’s Health Equity Council, Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Wisconsin Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability, and the statewide 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.