Did byron donalds play football ? Byron Donalds grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and he is also the proud son of a hardworking and loving single mother. His mother dedicated her time instilling in him that greatness requires sacrifice, which drives him as a devoted family man and United States Congressman.
Byron is a graduate of Florida State University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and marketing. Byron’s career led him to Southwest Florida, where he worked in the banking, finance, and insurance industries. Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, Byron represented Hendry County and east Collier County in the State Capitol. During his tenure in the Florida House, Byron served as the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee Chair during the 2018-2019 Legislative Session and served as the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee’s Chairman 2019-2020 Legislative Session. While serving in the Florida House, primarily focused on elder affairs, criminal justice reform, and ensuring that each child has access to a world-class education.
Byron is committed to serving and giving back to the community that gave him so much. He has served Southwest Florida in many ways, including previously serving on the Board of Trustees for Florida Southwestern State College after being appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott. Byron continues to volunteer in his church as a youth leader and a mentor. He also enjoys volunteering as a coach in youth football and basketball leagues.
Congressman Byron Donalds lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife, Erika, and their three sons: Damon, Darin, and Mason. Byron has spent his entire adult life serving others, whether it be through volunteering, business, or leadership. He is committed to representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District’s conservative values in Washington DC to ensure a stronger Florida and a stronger nation.
Meet Byron Donalds, Florida’s third-ever Black Republican in Congress
Before Byron Donalds became a congressman, he worked in banking and insurance and was a Florida state representative. Growing up, he says he was an apolitical registered Democrat. But the party’s promises of individual liberty and conservatism made him want to be a Republican.
“I believe that if you have a system of government, which we mostly have in the United States, where most issues actually stay at the local and state levels and at the federal level, we deal with the things that, frankly, states can’t do on their own,” Donalds said in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
During the campaign and as a congressman, Donalds has held controversial views on Covid-19 safety protocols — not getting the vaccine or wearing a mask when we met up. He contracted Covid-19 last October.
A rising star in the party and one of two Black Republicans in the U.S. House, Donalds says he doesn’t believe that systemic racism exists. “One hundred years ago, if you had told me there was systemic racism in the United States, I would’ve said absolutely there was,” Donalds said. “Systemic and institutionalized racism today in the United States. No, no.”
I pushed back, pointing to the numbers on how the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing gaps between Black Americans and their white counterparts: from healthcare to the racial wealth gap, which has increased for decades.
Quite a bit of the conversation was about the former President Trump’s false claims that there was mass voter fraud in the 2020 election. To be honest, that part of the conversations is better if you just watch it.
Who does Byron Donalds represent?
Donalds has been the U.S. representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district since 2021. His district serves most of the heart of Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples.
What did Byron Donalds do before he was elected to Congress?
Donalds was a member of the Florida House of Representatives (2016–2020). He represented Hendry County and east Collier County in the State Capitol.
During his tenure in the Florida House, Donalds served as the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee Chair during the 2018-2019 Legislative Session and served as the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee’s Chairman 2019-2020 Legislative Session. While serving in the Florida House, he focused primarily on elder affairs, criminal justice reform, and an effort to ensure that each child has access to a world-class education.
The Education of Byron Donalds, the Right-Wing Fringe’s Newest Star
I first encountered Florida Representative Byron Donalds in a small conference room at CPAC Dallas back in August 2022. He stood alongside his wife, Erika, who told an audience of perhaps 150 people the story of their middle child, Darin, who did not do well in traditional school but now thrives at a small private school able to give him the individualized attention he needs. “In the United States today, [school choice] is frankly only preserved for the rich and people in the upper middle class,” Byron Donalds commented.
The Donaldses’ policy prescription—get involved with your school board, promote school vouchers—fit with the themes of the conference. The social justice argument did not. The moment stuck with me even as much else about the frenetic three-day event faded from memory.
I next encountered Donalds midway through Kevin McCarthy’s interminable January struggle to coax and bribe his way into enough votes to become the GOP’s new House speaker, when Texas Representative and anti-McCarthyite Chip Roy unexpectedly nominated Donalds as the holdouts’ preferred speaker candidate. “For the first time in history,” Roy proclaimed, “there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House.” Donalds got 20 votes during that roll call.
Roy’s line earned a reluctant standing ovation inside the chamber and vitriol outside it. “Byron Donalds is not a historic candidate for speaker. He is a prop,” Democratic Representative Cori Bush tweeted furiously. “Despite being Black, he supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy.” A few days later, MSNBC anchor Joy Reid wrote off the Donalds nomination as a “diversity statement.”
After extensive negotiations, Donalds eventually ended the saga and, along with most of the other objectors, voted for McCarthy. The move paid off. This no-name Florida member of the House with just one term under his belt landed himself a plum position on the House Republican Steering Committee, which determines who gets assigned to all the other committees. Donalds’s star is rising, and his ability to meld the staunch conservative politics of the anti-McCarthy faction with a softer, almost progressive tone of rhetoric seems likely to take him even higher.
Donalds does not look like the other Freedom Caucus members—he is the only Black person associated with the group—and his speeches do not usually sound like the fire-breathing exhortations of the other caucus members either. Take guns. “Who do you think you are to disarm Americans and leave them vulnerable?” Lauren Boebert shrieked in early 2021, during a floor debate on enhanced background checks. “You want to defund our police and yet leave us without a way to protect ourselves!” Donalds, by contrast, has managed to maintain his A+ NRA rating without sounding heartless. “Gun crime in the United States is a tragedy for us all,” he said later in the session. “Unfortunately, laws don’t fix most of the tragedies that we face as Americans,” he said, adding that we should not be “stripping the constitutional rights from our fellow citizens.”
Donalds often uses the language of social justice to advance a fiscal agenda ripped from the pages of Atlas Shrugged. “If you want to see, frankly, Black families or Hispanic families lose jobs or get paid less money, raise the corporate income tax,” Donalds admonished during a news conference in May 2021. “Those families will see less money going into their home, going into their pocketbooks, to pay for food, to pay for their children’s needs.”
The following year, Donalds argued that regulation as a whole runs counter to social justice. “We all know the history,” he said. “We understand why there are Black families who do not have the same size of net worth as white families on an average basis. But what you do not do is saddle our economy with more regulation and more silly policies.”
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