Mandela Barnes, named after South Africa freedom fighter and president Nelson Mandela, made history in 2018 as Wisconsin’s first African American lieutenant governor. Barnes, 34, entered the political arena as a 25-year-old lawmaker in the Wisconsin Assembly, where he chaired the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus. During his two terms in office, he advocated for progressive economic policies and gun violence prevention.
Barnes, a Milwaukee native, grew up in the city’s 53206 zip code, which he describes as “one of our nation’s most impoverished and incarcerated areas.” Before entering politics, Barnes was an organizer for the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), an interfaith social justice organization. He’s an HBCU Graduate of Alabama A&M University.