Johnson-Harrell breaks barriers as Pa.'s first Muslim woman state representative

Cherri Gregg
March 16, 2019 - 11:48 am
Movita Johnson-Harrell

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —The 190th legislative district has a new leader—and she'll be breaking barriers. Movita Johnson-Harrell will be sworn into the Pennsylvania House and is believed to be the Commonwealth's first Muslim woman to serve. 

Johnson-Harrell won two thirds of the vote in a special election for the 190th district. She ran against three other candidates, with just a four week long campaign.

"We touched approximately 10,000 people five times in four weeks," Johnson-Harrell said. 

Johnson-Harrell was most recently the head of victim services for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office before taking a leave of absence to run. The gun control advocate and University of Pennsylvania graduate founded the CHARLES Foundation 8 years ago, after her son Charles Johnson was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity. 

"To fight for our young people on both sides of the gun, also to empower our communities," she said about the foundation.  

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The second generation Muslim will now take her cause to Harrisburg...hijab and all, with her agenda in hand. 

"As a legislator I will be able to make change on a larger scale..."

Johnson-Harrell said her big focus will be guns. 

"While I want to push safe gun legislation, I also want to push for fair funding for our schools."

Johnson-Harrell will be sworn in on March 25. She will fill the seat vacated by Vanessa Lowry Brown, who resigned after she was convicted on bribery charges.