Representative Ako Abdul-Samad
Ako Abdul–Samad is a life-long resident of Des Moines. His first stirrings to community service started as a lieutenant with the Black Panthers where he helped found a free breakfast program.
He founded the nonprofit, Creative Visions, in 1996 to address drug use, gang violence, and crime involving at-risk youth. It has since expanded to include meal programs, career counseling, and other activities that have enabled thousands of individuals to build better lives.
In 1997, his son, Ako White Abdul-Samad, was killed. Ako made the decision to take the young man who killed his son into his own home to protect him. His decision to forgive him and turn his Pain into Power pushed him toward a life in public service.
He was first elected to the Des Moines School Board. He was then elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2007. As a legislator and now as an Assistant Democratic Leader, his imprint has been felt on countless pieces of legislation.
With the recent death of George Floyd, he has been a constant presence at community vigils, marches, and protests. Despite being teargassed, shot with rubber bullets, and struck by a brick, he has been a vital connection to all in the community.
One of his career highlights will certainly be his work on the recent unanimous passage of the “More Perfect Union” legislation prohibiting the use of chokeholds by officers, granting the Attorney General the ability to investigate officers who have committed a criminal offense leading to someone’s death, requiring annual de-escalation training for officers, and prohibiting the rehiring of officers who were fired or resigned for serious misconduct.