Renitta Shannon is a well-known progressive advocate who uses her platform to fight stigmas and create legislation for marginalized communities. In 2016, Renitta was elected after defeating a four-term Democratic incumbent with a bold, new progressive platform. In January 2017, she was sworn into the Georgia State House of Representatives to represent the 84th district.
Renitta was raised by her hardworking parents who often worked in minimum wage-earning jobs. Her upbringing encouraged her determination to work hard and succeed. During college, Renitta worked as a restaurant server, while also earning scholarships and taking out student loans. With the help of her parents, she graduated from the University of Florida.
Renitta was awarded the “Champion of Immigrant Rights Award” in 2018 by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice for her work with immigrant communities. She also advocates for worker’s rights, having participated in rallies to hold companies accountable for paying poverty wages and speaking out against policies that hurt workers. She was a part of the “Making Change at Walmart” tour, giving speeches holding Walmart accountable for paying poverty wages. Renitta published a piece in The Brown Girl’s Guide to politics during pride month about her personal experience of coming out and “Why it Matters to Elect Queer Black Women to Public Office”.
In December 2018, Shannon led a group of lawmakers to boycott then Governor-elect Brian Kemp’s first public address. The legislative boycott was in response to Kemp’s “gubernatorial campaign of hate against half of Georgia, targeting black and brown voters, the LGBTQ community, and women.”
The equal and fair treatment of communities of color is central to Renitta’s legislative work. This includes tackling the systemic racial and economic biases built into Georgia’s criminal justice system, combatting voting restrictions, and advocating for better working conditions. She sponsored bills to increase police accountability and advance equal justice under the law for everyone. Renitta has also worked on Georgia’s systemic problems with mass incarceration and school-to-prison pipelines.
Since 2017, Renitta has served on the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Georgia General Assembly which deals with election laws. In 2018, Shannon introduced a bill to request that Georgia be placed back under federal preclearance, a voting law approval system that was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1965. She’s been interviewed by media outlets to talk about voter suppression in Georgia and bring to light the tactics used by conservatives to largely silence the voices of Black and brown voters.
In her first year as a legislator, Renitta was awarded “Most Valuable Legislator” for her work on sexual assault policy. In 2019, Renitta was physically removed from the Georgia General Assembly’s House floor by security during her dissent against Georgia House Bill 481, a bill sponsored by Georgia’s Republican party to effectively outlaw abortion in the state. In her effort to stop the bill from coming to a vote, she spoke against the bill and refused to cede the podium. “I was not going to just let them pass this like some tax bill that nobody cares about“.