By: Elisabeth Mann
Park Cannon was born in Albany, Georgia in 1991 to her father, a Vietnam war veteran and her mother, a pharmaceutical representative. Cannon was raised on a military base because of her father's job. Her parents divorced when she was young but remained supportive of her. Cannon began her college career at Chapman University but transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she was faced with racial slurs. She studied linguistics and women gender studies, which inspired her to get into politics. After college, she worked with the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, she worked on Black women’s health promotion, and volunteered for Planned Parenthood.
Cannon is a member of the democratic party and represents the 58th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. Simone Bell, former Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives, asked Cannon to run for office and succeed her in the 2016 election. Cannon also ran for election in the November 2020 election following the death of John Lewis but did not end up winning his seat. Her title is currently the Minority Caucus leader, and she is a part of committees including code revision, creative arts and entertainment, ethics, human relations and aging, insurance, and small business development.
She has also identified as queer and has been an important advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner states, “Cannon definitely looks at the world differently than most members. The difference is that she identifies with the word ‘queer.’ I think that’s generated some discussion because a lot of members have no clue ‘Q’ means.” Cannon has created dialogue between representatives and the public. She hopes to represent women, African Americans, young people intersex people, lesbians, asexual and transgender people.
On March 25, 2021, Representative Park Cannon was arrested for knocking on the door of Governor Brian Kemp’s office as he was signing the “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” This Act lists many controversial changes to how elections will be run including changes in absentee voting, changes to early voting, changes to voting counting, changes affecting local elections offices, and changes affecting the state election board.
The Act would require photo identification, limit drop boxes, and allows the state to take over county elections. According to Fox News, Cannon was charged with obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or other meetings. In a statement following her release she states
“I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true. But someday soon that last person will step out of jail for the last time and breathe a first breath knowing that no one will be jailed again for fighting for the right to vote.”
The Democratic Caucus is calling for charges against Cannon to be dropped. The officer who arrested Cannon felt that if he didn’t arrest her other protesters would grow more violent and it would be a similar situation as the capitol bombardment.
Cannon is showing people that standing up for what you believe is right, sometimes comes with consequences. She is a true example of a fearless and selfless leader who is in politics to help people. Cannon is also showing young people, Black women, people of the LGBTQ+ community that there is a place for them in office and that until then, she will be their voice. She will continue to fight for fair voting rights and equality.
Fox News. “Rep. Park Cannon Returns to Georgia State Capitol Following Arrest.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 29 Mar. 2021, www.foxnews.com/politics/rep-cannon-returns-to-georgia-statehouse-following-arrest.
Representative Park Cannon, www.house.ga.gov/REPRESENTATIVES/en-US/member.aspx?Member=4880.
Trammell, Kendall. “The Queer Black Millennial Who Plans to Shake up Georgia Politics.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Mar. 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/03/29/us/park-cannon-georgia-house-feat.