First Person Singular

Angela McGlowan, political analyst and Miss District of Columbia 1994

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I've always believed in the political system. As a kid, I would go around and hand out political fliers. So, upon graduation from college, I made a deal with my mom: "Let me go to D.C., and, after a year, I'll come back, go to Ole Miss and become a lawyer."

Once I got to D.C., I walked up and down the halls of Congress handing out my rsum. Little did I know about networking in D.C. You need to get to the chief of staff, or someone who makes decisions, to get hired. I don't know where my rsums went. Coming from Mississippi, if you handed something to somebody's assistant, they were sure to get it. And you were sure to get a call back. I mean, my mama knew the head banker's assistant, and they probably went to our church. So, of course, you're going to get your phone call returned.

So, I went into the offices bright-eyed: "I'm here from Mississippi, and I'd like to work for your member." They were like, "Who is this crazy person coming in here, and does she really think she's going to get a job?"

My bubble was burst. Then, an acquaintance said, "Angela, go out for Miss Washington, D.C. In this town, you really have to network, and you really have to know people. You can take the title and make it something big."

After living in D.C. for seven months and 14 days, I won Miss Washington, D.C. It gave me a chance to meet the heavy hitters. Given one minute with the Senate leader, talking about the state of black America and about the current welfare system and things like that at a cocktail reception, people took notice.

So, I stayed in D.C. and became a lobbyist and a political analyst on TV. I didn't have the desire to go back. Why go back when things are on a roll?

One day, I hope to be an elected official in Congress with my father's last name. He always wanted to run for office, but it was never politically correct for a black man to run. So, I'm living out his legacy. And I'm going to make sure that, when anybody comes to my office, with any message -- even if it's some coot -- that they will get a letter or follow-up. I will not turn away their request without some type of response. They may just get a letter saying, "Hey, I hear you." I didn't even get that.

-- Interview by Cathy Areu

© 2005 The Washington Post Company