Brenda Lenard is a U.S. Senatorial candidate from Sweetwater, Tennessee who grew up in the projects and may become the first African-American and first female U.S. Senator to come out of Tennessee if she wins the election. She is up against republican incumbent, Senator Lamar Alexander.
Lenard’s story begins in St. Louis, Missouri. Born in the late sixties, Lenard and her four siblings were living a middle class life in a two-parent household when suddenly her world was torn apart. She said, “The journey starting in the “Show Me” state of Missouri. And then my mother and my siblings and I moved to the state of Georgia after my parents’ divorce. So we found ourselves going from being a middle class family to our new home being a condemned, abandoned apartment in Atlanta.”
But instead of reveling in what some may view as a misfortune, the University of Tennessee PH.D. candidate said it actually helped her. Lenard said, “It was that experience I had growing up as a child, that my mother would encourage us each and every day that we could become anything that we wanted to become in life. And that we are not bound by our circumstances, even though at one point, a condemned apartment in Kirkwood, Georgia was our home. And it was during that time that my mother would always encourage us to trust God in everything that we did. “
Life After The Projects
Lenard went on to work in corporate America. She later transitioned in to the non-profit sector after the sudden loss of her six-month old son Daniel. “I found myself at a point where I had to figure out what was the purpose of such a tragedy…so at that point I went back to school. I completed my bachelor’s in biblical education. I completed my masters in public administration. And I’m working on my PH.D. at the University of Tennessee in political science in Knoxville. It was that experience that I had growing up that prodded me to run for the United States Senate.”
Despite the fact that she has no political experience, Lenard decided to run for office in 2010. She stated, “I made that decision because I started to see that opportunities for individuals like me had started to disappear right in front of my eyes, and I wanted to make sure that moving forward, the next generation has the same opportunities that we do have now.”
Utilizing Social Media
Lenard admits she doesn’t have a ton of money for her campaign. This led her to utilize social media to get her word out. Lenard said, “The power of social media allowed an individual like me who may not have the deep pockets but have a voice and wants to have an opportunity to get their message out, and social media has provided a such a powerful platform. And even if you don’t have the big bucks yet, you can still use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so many other social media platforms to get your message out.”
As a graduate of a bible college, Lenard encourages others through social media during her campaign, “Through the power of social media, we’re able to take out inspiring message straight to the people…nationwide,” said Lenard.
While she prepares for the August 7th primary, she hopes her story will encourage others in life to shoot for their goals. “America has bounds of opportunity for each and every one of us. So it doesn’t matter where we find ourselves at the beginning of our lives, that’s just sour beginning. We should use every single stepping stone, every single set back, every single disappointment as a catalyst to move us higher and higher….so aim high, shoot for the stars, and in America, you an become anything that you want to become, including the first United States Senator who is a woman and who is African-American from the state of Tennessee. ”