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Philadelphia is set to make history Tuesday, as the inauguration of the city’s 100th mayor gets underway. Cherelle Parker will be the first woman and the first Black woman to hold the post.
Born in Northwest Philadelphia to a single mother, Parker was orphaned at 11. She came from a humble background, a fact she made part of her campaign story.
“Because I wouldn’t allow any anybody else to attempt to weaponize my humble beginnings against me so before they could do it I made sure that I told you that I was born to a single teenage mother that I was raised by my grandparents, that my grandmother collected welfare and subsidized food to take care of me,” Parker told the crowd at her November victory party.
When Parker was 17, she won a speech contest for her essay “The Power of Writing, Reading & Books.” This caught the attention of then-Philadelphia Councilmember Maria Tasco, another trailblazer who made it a mission to mentor women leaders. Tasco hired Parker as an intern.