On June 26, 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Bronx native, made history when she thoroughly defeated 10-term New York Democratic congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district in the state’s Democratic primary, with close to 58 percent of the vote. It was her first time running for office, and as a Democratic Socialist of Puerto Rican descent, her stunning victory over the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House was a boon to the progressive change that many liberal voters have been demanding.
From an early age, Alexandria grew up with a deep understanding of income inequality. The state of Bronx public schools in the late 80s and early 90s sent her parents on a search for a solution. She ended up attending public school in Yorktown—40 minutes north of her birthplace. As a result, much of her early life was spent in transit between her tight-knit extended family in the Bronx and her daily student life. It was clear to her, even then, that the zip code a child was born in determined much of their destiny. The 40-minute drive represented a vastly different quality of available schooling, economic opportunity, and health outcomes.