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 and the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. Sewell is the only Democrat in Alabama's seven-member Congressional delegation. A native of Selma, Alabama, she is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School and Oxford University, and is a public finance attorney.
Terri Sewell was raised in Selma, Alabama. Her maternal family offered its homestead to travelers on the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery. U.S. News and World Report, among others. A lifelong Democrat, during the summers while in college, she worked on Capitol Hill for 7th Congressional District congressman Richard Shelby, as well as for then Alabama Senator Howell Heflin. She was a leader on the college campus, serving 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.Upon graduation from college, Sewell was featured on NBC’s Today Show as one of the “Top Collegian Women” and was chosen as one of the “Top Ten College Women in America,” by Glamour Magazine. She received the Afro-American Studies Thesis Prize for her senior thesis entitled, Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come which featured a personal interview with Shirley Chisholm, the first black U.S. Congresswoman. She was awarded a Marshall/Commonwealth Scholarship and continued her education, receiving a Masters degree with first class Honours from Oxford University. At the age of 25, she published her Masters’ thesis into a book on the election of the first black members of British parliament entitled Black Tribunes: Race and Representation in British Politics. Sewell attended Harvard Law School with the help of an NAACP Legal Defense Fund scholarship, graduating in 1992. In law school, she served as an editor of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review and published an article about the legal struggles in Selma in the Harvard Black Letter Journal entitled, “Selma, Lord, Selma” (vol. 8, Spring 1991).
Sewell spent her childhood summers in Lowndes County, Alabama with her grandparents. Her grandfather, a Primitive Baptist Minister and a farmer, instilled in her a love for the land, an appreciation of hard work and the importance of her faith. It was her grandfather and the members of Beulah Primitive Baptist Church that gave her a deep understanding of the Black Belt Region of Alabama and its people. Sewell is the daughter of retired Coach Andrew A. Sewell and former City Councilwoman and retired librarian Nancy Gardner Sewell of Selma, Alabama. Nancy Gardner Sewell was the first black woman elected to the Selma City Council. Both parents held careers in the Selma public school system. Sewell became the first black valedictorian of Selma High School. Sewell graduated with honors from Princeton University and received a scholarship from
After graduation, Sewell served as a judicial law clerk in Birmingham, Alabama to the Honorable Chief Judge U.W. Clemon, United States District Court (AL-ND), Alabama’s first black federal judge.
Sewell began her legal career in 1994 at the Wall Street law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. A securities lawyer for more than a decade, she gained a strong understanding of finance and capital markets. Sewell provided free legal services to the homeless, mentoring girls of color in NYC high schools through the program Dreams into Action and serving on the Alumni Advisory Board of Sponsors of Educational Opportunity, a not-for-profit organization providing education, leadership training and Wall Street internships to students of color. Through her involvement with SEO, she served as the co-chair of the Community Assistance Fund, which provided $100,000 of aid and assistance to organizations serving communities of color affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Sewell moved back to Alabama in 2004 for family and community reasons. She returned to assist her mother in the care of her father. As the first black female partner in the Birmingham law firm of Maynard, Cooper, & Gale, P.C., Sewell has distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. She currently serves as a lawyer helping to raise money for public projects for some of the state’s most underserved public entities, many in the 7th Congressional district, including the City of Selma, Dallas County Water Authority and Lowndes County Board of Education. A firm believer in the importance of education, she made educational finance a particular focus of her practice representing the historically black colleges in the State of Alabama including Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, and Stillman College as well as other state higher education institutions like Wallace State-Hanceville, Jefferson State Community College, Chattahoochee Valley Community College and the State of Alabama’s Public Schools and University Authority.
U.S, House of Representatives
Sewell ran against Republican nominee Don Chamberlain for the seat of retiring Artur Davis. She is the first African-American woman to represent Alabama in Congress.
Terri Sewell served as the first 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 is currently spearheading the effort to get Teach for America to 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. Her professional affiliations include American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, the Birmingham Bar Association and the Magic City Bar Association. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and The Links, Incorporated. Sewell was listed in the magazine Alabama Super Lawyers for 2008 & 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.
August 16th, 2011