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Haitian-American woman makes political history

Ludmya "Mia" Love makes some Haitians in Miami proud

Mia Love during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Mia Love during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)


LITTLE HAITI, Fla. Ludmya "Mia" Love is Haitian-American and Tuesday night she became the first Republican black woman in Congress.

Sen. John McCain and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney flew in to Utah to campaign on her behalf. Love's immigrant story is one that is familiar to some in South Florida.

Jan Mapou, owner of Libreri Mapou, 5919 NE 2nd Ave., in Miami's Little Haiti, was in his car when he heard the news Wednesday. His radio was tuned to Radio Mega, a station that airs news in Creole. He used to live and sell books in New York.

"We are very happy," Mapou said. "We still don't know much about her, but we want to know."

Love was born Dec. 6, 1975 in Brooklyn -- a few years after her parents, Mary and Jean Maxine Bourdeau, left the island for New York. They only had $10 in their pocket when they left running from Tonton Macoutes, a "Pap Doc" Duvalier paramilitary that was active until 1986.

When her parents "finally became U.S. citizens, they had studied the Constitution, American history, they learned the English language," Love, 39, said, during an interview with Newsweek. "And when they pledged allegiance to the American flag for the first time, they meant every word."

She grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut and was raised a Catholic. After graduating from the University of Hartford, she moved to Utah, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and wed Jason Love.

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About 60 percent of voters in Utah belong to the church that only allowed blacks to practice until 1978.  Love also appealed to busy mothers. She is mom to Alessa, 14, Abigail, 11, and Peyton, 7. 

She was under the spotlight in 2012, when she gave a moving speech at the Republican party's convention in Tampa, Fla., to nominate Mitt Romney.

"When times got tough, they didn't look to Washington, they looked within," she said during the speech.

During an interview with Fox News in 2012, she said her father worked as a janitor and factory worker.

Love said that she took her dad to college with her, "and he looked at me very seriously, and he said, 'Mia, your mother and I have done everything we could to get you here. We've worked hard. We've never taken a handout. You're not going to be a burden to society. You will give back.''

Love got involved in politics over flies that had infested an area. A Utah Lake developer did not want to take care of them. And later she went on to become a Saratoga Springs councilwoman and the small town's mayor.

Tuesday night she won a seat in Utah's 4th congressional district.

"It is big news for us [Haitians] today," Mapou said. "How can you not be proud?"

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