The Projects To PhD: The 1st Black Woman Set To Enter The US Senate From The South

This year all around America, many men and women are running to get elected to the US Senate. We were lucky enough to talk to one of the female candidates who, if elected come November 2014, will make US history for 2 main reasons: She will be the first woman and first African-American from the south to hold a seat in the Senate.

Her name is Brenda Lenard, and she has an extraordinary journey which got her where she is today. We spoke to Brenda about her campaign, her strong faith in God, and why she believes a career in politics is her destiny.

Brenda is the Republican Senate Candidate for Tennessee, and is representing the American Dream: the opportunity to achieve whatever you want, if you work hard toward that goal. Growing up in the projects of Atlanta, GA, she spent most of her upbringing sleeping on apartment floors and moving around with her family. She became the first person in her family to complete college, and today is an example of a woman who has worked her way up. She has a degree in Biblical Studies and Leadership from Beulah Heights Bible College, a Masters degree in public administration from Kennesaw State University (which she earned while working full time and raising three children-NBD) and is about to complete her Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville.

She has worked in the banking sector, and was the CEO of a construction firm. Following the tragic death of her six month old son due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, she founded Daniel’s Dream for Children’s Awareness, an organization committed to raising awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and has been recognized by the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute for her advocacy.

Being a site that is an advocate of women from all walks of life, we are excited to see the type of women that she will represent, and know how important it is to have all types of women represented at a federal government level. Whether you vote right, left or independent, it is important as women to have a grasp on what all the issues are, and raise up more female leaders in our communities.


Tell us a little about your background and upbringing?

I was born in St. Louis, MO and moved to Atlanta, GA with my mother and siblings. It was there, we went from a middle class family to sleeping in an abandoned apartment. Next, we progressed from the abandoned apartment to the projects. However, it was during this period that my mother would always remind us that we could become anything that we wanted to become.

You are currently studying for a Ph.D, did you ever think you would be able to do this growing up?

I never could have imagined earning a Bachelor’s degree let alone a Ph.D. I am the first in my family to complete a Bachelor’s, Master’s and now my Ph.D. Growing up, while my mother did not graduate from high school, she was my biggest inspiration to strive for education excellence.


Why are you running for a seat in the Senate?

I am running for the U.S. Senate because our Constitutional Republic is dissipating right in front of our eyes. My inspiration for doing so? The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights…together they are the cornerstone that has made America an exceptional country and helped me rise from the projects of Atlanta, GA to a Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee and a U.S. Senate Candidate for Tennessee.

Now, that cornerstone has shifted with wasteful spending, excessive taxation, and overly burdensome regulations. Therefore, if we do not reverse these actions, the citizens of America will no longer the experience the economic prosperity once realized. In summary, the reason that I am running for the U.S. Senate is to act as a catalyst, to stir other members of congress and to help return America back to its Founding principles, those which made her exceptional!

If you are successful in your campaign, you would be the first woman, first African American, and first African American woman from the south to hold a seat. How significant is this for you and the women of America?

My election would be very significant for Americans including women, African Americans, poor people, working-class people, small business owners and others because it will send a strong message that America works for everyone. In other words, the pursuit of happiness is not just afforded to the elites or the privileged. It is for all who persevere. It is my objective, as a U.S. Senator, to ensure that this truth remains intact, that all who wish to act in the pursuit of happiness can do just that and that such liberty is not afforded only to the elites.


Why do you think it is more important than ever for women to have an interest in politics?

It is more important than ever because women are decision makers in many economic transactions such as purchasing cars, homes, vacations, and basic day to day purchases. Therefore, when women feel the economic pinch of their households they want positive action. I have no doubt that when I get to DC, I will govern like many women do day to day, within a budget!

What are some policies you feel strongly about that you would be working toward if elected?

The policies that I would work towards first are education policies. It is no secret that our Department of Education is over funded and under-performing. Every child deserves a solid education to be able to compete in this global economy. Therefore, I will work tirelessly to make education opportunities a choice for all parents to have for their households, not just for those who have the means to pay their taxes and tuition.

Senate Republicans just blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act for the third time, essentially saying that enforcing equal pay for women and women isn’t important. What are your thoughts on this?

I fully support the concept that women should receive equal pay for equal work. For example, when I get to the Senate, I want to be paid the same as my male counterparts. However, women must be aware of the dangers of using government force to direct the activities of business owners. Because once the government has to power to enforce any issue, that same privilege can now become a curse. This is known as the unforeseen consequences of governmental action in the form of policy creep.

For example, what if the government later forces women to do a job that may be harmful to her using that same government force for pay? I am confident that a woman can sell her worth to any prospective employer and provide examples of why her talents are a best fit for that organization. Then, if that organization does not see her worth, she is free to offer her services to another company.


What is something you would like to do to give back to the community? You mentioned something about going back to the projects?

I am planning a trip back to the projects of Atlanta, GA to document the steps from the projects to the Ph.D. The message that I want to take back is “I was your neighbor.” Now, I am on the cusp of making history and you can too! The American dream is for everyone. Then, I would like to ultimately create a scholarship fund to help fund education for students to help achieve their goals and ambitions.

Many people around the world say women are the key to ending poverty, and when you empower women financially a community benefits. How have you seen this in effect in your own life?

I agree that when you empower women financially you can end poverty because women are, in many cases, sole bread winners in their households due to many circumstances. Therefore, if she can find the fortitude, resolve and resources she can eclipse the moon, and ultimately the community benefits because she is producer and not a dependent on society.


What advice would you give to women out there who are facing a struggle but are looking for role models like yourself to encourage them to keep going?

The advice that I would give is the same advice that I give to myself and that is: trouble does not last always, and take one day at a time. I know those are clichés that you have heard over and over. But it is so true. When I look back at the days of living in the abandoned apartment and then projects of Atlanta, they are no longer experiences that I am facing today.

The next piece of advice is only focus on what is in front of you today. Once you get through today’s issues, rest and get prepared for the next day’s adventure.

Finally, regardless of the challenge, hold your head up high and know that failure is not final and is only that when you do not learn from the experience. You are only defeated when you decided to quit!

What is the American Dream for you? How do you envision the women of this country in the future?

The American dream for me was realized when I saw my name on the ballot along with one of the wealthiest Senators in the Congress. I am inspired knowing that years ago, I once slept on the floor of a condemned apartment building. Therefore, to see my name on the ballot alongside the Senator’s name is a testament that I have already realized the American dream because I have the OPPORTUNITY to compete.

Being sworn in will be the cherry on top of the sundae. Once I get elected to the U.S. Senate, I envision more women, whether local, state, or federal government, will get involved in politics. This will be just one more reason for my continued sense of humility, yet I will be excited knowing that I played a minor role in empowering more women to get involved in American politics.

Finally, who are your role models?

My role models are first and foremost my mother; next, Margaret Thatcher, and Dr. Condoleezza Rice.


To find out more about Brenda, donate to her campaign and get to know her policies, be sure to check out her website and reach out to her! You can also follow her on Twitter, and Facebook. Stay tuned to see our next feature with a female Democratic candidate for senate from California right here on GTHQ!


  1. Congratulations, Brenda, on your continuing success. Also, thank you for boldly living your testimony for Christ, to the benefit of so many, in the public sphere. You clearly demonstrate that a devout Christian Constitutionalist presents no threat, but rather only good, to those of good will — to those who want the best for Tennessee and for our nation as a whole. May God’s best be yours.

  2. Pingback: Senate Candidate Barbi Appelquist Tell Us Why Politics Needs Women

  3. Pingback: Senate Candidate Barbi Appelquist Tells Us Why Politics Needs Women

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