|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Alabama's 7th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Artur Davis|
Terrycina Andrea Sewell
January 1, 1965
Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Theodore Dixie (Divorced)|
|Education||Princeton University (BA)|
St Hilda's College, Oxford (MA)
Harvard University (JD)
Terrycina Andrea "Terri" Sewell (//; born January 1, 1965) is an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served as the U.S. Representative since 2011 for Alabama's 7th congressional district, which includes most of the Black Belt, as well as most of the predominantly black portions of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery. Alongside U.S. Senator Doug Jones, Sewell is one of two Democrats in Alabama’s congressional delegation. A native of Selma, Sewell is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University. Before entering politics, she was a securities lawyer for Davis Polk & Wardwell. She is the first African-American woman to have been elected to Congress from Alabama, and, along with Republican Martha Roby, was one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in a regular election.
Early life and education
Terrycina Sewell was born in Huntsville, Alabama to  Andrew A. Sewell, a former high school basketball coach, and Nancy Gardner Sewell, a retired high school librarian and former City Councilwoman in Selma. Her mother was the first black woman elected to the Selma City Council.
As a child, Sewell wanted to be a star on Broadway. Her mother wanted her to become a lawyer. Sewell was on the debate team in high school. She was the first black valedictorian of Selma High School.
After graduating high school, Sewell went to Princeton University. She was the first graduate from Selma High School to attend an Ivy League school. She was recruited to attend Princeton by Julian L. McPhillips, who read about Sewell in the local Selma newspaper. She befriended Michelle Obama, who served as what Sewell called her "big sister" on campus. Sewell completed a 158-page long senior thesis, titled "Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come". During her time at Princeton, she interned with Richard Shelby and Howell Heflin.
After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Sewell attended Oxford University. It was there where she befriended Susan Rice. Her master's thesis was on the election of the first black members of British parliament as a book titled, Black Tribunes: Race and Representation in British Politics (1993). She graduated from Oxford with a degree in political science in 1988. She attended Harvard University for her J.D. degree, which she completed in 1992. She was classmates and friends with Barack Obama, who would not only become a lifelong friend, but be a seminal figure in Sewell's decision to pursue a career in politics.
Legal career and political aspirations
After graduation, Sewell served as a judicial law clerk in Birmingham, Alabama to the Chief Judge U. W. Clemon, In New York, she worked at Davis Polk & Wardell, alongside Kirsten Gillibrand, starting in 1994.
Sewell returned to Alabama in 2004, due to her father's health problems. She worked for another law firm, Maynard, Cooper & Gale PC, where she was the first Black woman partner at the firm. She was a public finance lawyer.
In 2007 Sewell was at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, where she is a member, in Selma, when then senator Barack Obama spoke during the 2008 United States presidential election. Sewell credits Obama's speech, in which he asked, "“The questions that I have today is, what’s called of us in this Joshua generation? What do we do in order to fulfill that legacy, to fulfill the obligations and the debt that we owe to those who allowed us to be here today?”, as being the catalyst for her serving in politics. Weeks after the Obama speech, Kirsten Gillibrand called Sewell, recruiting Sewell to run for office.
U.S. House of Representatives
After four-term Democratic incumbent Artur Davis gave up the seat to run for governor, Sewell entered the Democratic primary—the real contest in this majority Democratic, majority-black district. She finished first in the four-way primary with 36.8 percent of the vote. In the runoff, she defeated Jefferson County commissioner Sheila Smoot with 55 percent of the vote.
In the general election, Sewell defeated Republican opponent Don Chamberlain in a landslide, taking 72.4 percent of the vote to become the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. The 7th is so strongly Democratic that Sewell essentially clinched her seat by winning the primary.
Sewell was challenged in the Democratic primary by Tamara Harris Johnson, a former Birmingham City Attorney. No Republican candidate filed. Sewell defeated Johnson with 83.9% of the primary vote, effectively clinching a third term.
Sewell was again unchallenged by a Republican in the 2016 general election. She easily won a fourth term against a write-in opponent.
Tenure and political positions
Since being elected, Sewell has voted with her party 91% of the time. She was a strong supporter of President Obama's policies. She has a lifetime rating of 8% from Heritage Action for America for voting for pro-conservative laws. Despite this, for the 114th United States Congress, Sewell was ranked as the 94th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives (and the most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party). Sewell has established herself as a liberal with a focus on job creation. Sewell is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Terri Sewell is pro-choice. As of 2018, she has as 100% rating for her voting record on pro-choice legislation by NARAL. Sewell opposed the Human Life Protection Act, which went into effect in 2019. She described the bill on Twitter as "both blatantly unconstitutional and a brazen, extremist attack on women’s rights."
Sewell has a 79% rating from the ACLU for her pro-civil rights voting record. As of 2015, she is the only representative from Alabama to have a 100% rating from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda for supporting Latino civil rights related legislation. She has a 94% rating from the NAACP for her voting history regarding legislature supporting African Americans.
Sewell has been endorsed by the Feminist Majority in past elections. In 2011, Sewell signed the Equal Rights Amendment. Two years later, in 2013, Sewell voted in support of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. In 2019, she voted in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
She has a score of "85" out of 100 for her voting on pro-LGBTQ laws from the Human Rights Campaign. She co-sponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 which, if enacted, would have protected LGBT students from anti-gay bullying and discrimination in public schools.
Sewell is a staunch advocate for voting rights. In 2019, she sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would update the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by providing increased oversight over voting changes, updating the pre-clearance formula to oversee contemporary discrimination patterns, and expanding the power of the Attorney General to send federal observers to jurisdictions in areas at risk for discrimination during voting. In 2019, she co-sponsored the For the People Act of 2019.
Corporations and labor
Sewell has a 92% lifetime rating for her pro-union voting history from the AFL-CIO and a 97% lifetime rating from the AFSCME. She has a lifetime score of 61% from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for her pro-business votes. Sewell is a proponent of a $15 minimum wage.
In 2014, Sewell said in an interview with The Birmingham News that she does not support illegal drug use of any kind, including cannabis. She supports scientific research to evaluate the effects of medical marijuana. She does not support legalization of cannabis in Alabama. Sewell has a "D" rating from NORML, and a score of 3 out of 6 from National Cannabis Industry Association, regarding her voting record for cannabis.
Sewell is a major supporter of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In 2019, she sponsored a bill, which passed, funding HBCUs $70 million for capital improvements and to support their educational work.
Energy and oil
In 2018, the Humane Society of the United States gave Sewell a rating of 45% for her pro-animal welfare voting history. She has a 79% rating from the League of Conservation Voters for her pro-environment voting record.
Families and children
Sewell supported Obama's decisions regarding Afghanistan, citing "trust" for his policies. She was part of a bipartisan 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."
In 2019, Sewell voted in support for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, requiring background checks on anyone seeking to buy a firearm.
Sewell voted in favor for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She supports Medicaid expansion and offering incentives for states to do so. She is currently sponsoring bills to lower prescription drug costs, expand funding for rural hospitals, and to support more health studies on African American health disparities.
When Alabama governor Kay Ivey shared that she had performed in a college skit in blackface, Sewell responded calling Ivey's actions "reprehensible" and "deeply offensive" and that "Racism – in any of its forms – is never acceptable, not in the 1960s and not now."
Sewell supported President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for low- and middle-income Americans, but declined to discuss her 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."
Sewell wants to see the Military Widow’s Tax eliminated.
Donald J. Trump
On December 18, 2019, Sewell voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump and was the lone Representative from Alabama in the House to do so. 
War and peace
Sewell opposed removing armed forces from Afghanistan in 2011.
Welfare and poverty
Representative Sewell currently serves on the following House committees:
- House Committee on Ways and Means (Vice Chair)
- Subcommittee on Health
- Subcommittee on Human Resources
- Committee on Intelligence
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Democratic Primary Election, 2010|
|Democratic||Earl Hilliard, Jr.||22,981||26.82|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Democratic Primary Runoff Election, 2010|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Election, 2010|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Election, 2012|
|Democratic||Terri Sewell (inc.)||232,520||75.85|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Democratic Primary Election, 2014|
|Democratic||Terri Sewell (inc.)||74,953||83.91|
|Democratic||Tamara Harris Johnson||14,374||16.09|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Election, 2014|
|Democratic||Terri Sewell (inc.)||133,687||98.37|
|Alabama's 7th Congressional District Election, 2016|
|Democratic||Terri Sewell (inc.)||229,330||98.3|
Sewell married in 1998 to Theodore Dixie of Huntsville, Alabama. They are divorced.
- List of African-American United States Representatives
- Women in the United States House of Representatives
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- Elizabeth B. Andrews was elected to fill an unexpired term in the House, while Senators Dixie Bibb Graves and Maryon Pittman Allen were appointed and never elected.
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- "U. W. Clemon". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
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- "On The Issues". Who Runs Gov. The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Voting History". Open Congress. OpenCongress. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Rep. Terri Sewell". Heritage Action For America. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
- The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index (PDF), The Lugar Center, March 7, 2016, retrieved April 30, 2017
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- "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
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- "2018". U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
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- "Check out Representative Terri Sewell's Environmental Voting Record". League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
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- "Statement From Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell on President Obama's Framework for Business Tax Reform". House Press Release. Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- Moseley, Brandon (20 September 2019). "Sewell hopeful Congress will eliminate widow's tax in this year's NDAA". Alabama Political Reporter. Archived from the original on 21 September 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
- Panetta, Grace. "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump". Business Insider.
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- "Committees & Caucuses". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
- "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
- "Theodore Dixie Jr., Terrycina Sewell". The New York Times. 21 June 1998.
- Thompson, Krissah; Harris, Hamil R. (2015-06-20). "What's the right reaction when a white stranger walks into a black church?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Terri Sewell.|
- Congresswoman Terri Sewell official U.S. House site
- Terri Sewell for Congress
- Terri Sewell at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Preceded by |
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives |
from Alabama's 7th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|Preceded by |
| United States Representatives by seniority |
|112th||Senate: R. Shelby • J. Sessions||House: S. Bachus • R. Aderholt • J. Bonner • M. Rogers • M. Brooks • M. Roby • T. Sewell|
|113th||Senate: R. Shelby • J. Sessions||House: S. Bachus • R. Aderholt • J. Bonner • M. Rogers • M. Brooks • M. Roby • T. Sewell • B. Byrne|
|114th||Senate: R. Shelby • J. Sessions||House: R. Aderholt • M. Rogers • M. Brooks • M. Roby • T. Sewell • B. Byrne • G. Palmer|
|115th||Senate: R. Shelby • J. Sessions • L. Strange • D. Jones||House: R. Aderholt • M. Rogers • M. Brooks • M. Roby • T. Sewell • B. Byrne • G. Palmer|