Excitement rippled through Western Massachusetts after Tahirah Amatul- Wadud publicly announced her candidacy for the First Congressional District on December 19, 2017, in a three-stop launch tour throughout the district. Amatul-Wadud is challenging long-time incumbent Richard Neal (D-MASS) who has represented the district in Massachusetts in Congress for nearly three decades. Neal, is currently the ranking Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Amatul-Wadud, moved to Springfield more than three decades ago. Neal was mayor of Springfield when Amatul-Wadud and her family arrived from Brooklyn in 1984. An African-American Muslim attorney, Amatul-Wadud, 44, is a married mother of seven who owns a law practice with a focus on domestic relations law and civil rights. She has served as a volunteer commissioner on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and in 2016 was honored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as a Top Woman of Law. In addition to practicing law, Ms. Amatul-Wadud is a sought after speaker on issues of interfaith unity. Locally, educated, she graduated from Elms College in Chicopee in 1998 and from Western New England University School of Law in 2005. She was awarded the Dean’s Alumni Award in 2017.
Entrenched in the community, Amatul-Wadud noticed an increase in the burgeoning frustration and concern following the 2016 presidential election. The festering dissatisfaction with Neal among rural voters in particular has made the time ripe to contest the first district seat says Amatul-Wadud. Last year, dissatisfied constituents expressed their grievances by instigating the grassroots “Have you seen this Man?” campaign, which cleverly issued a most wanted bulletin featuring Neal’s picture. The complaint mostly stemmed from the rural corners of the district. However, Amatul-Wadud notes, “The rural voters are not the only ones who feel ignored. Many people in the inner cities feel equally overlooked. This campaign is about bringing together the entire district and recognizing that our concerns are the same and that everyone will be heard and respected.” The expansive first district spans 3,000 miles, borders Albany, NY and contains approximately 700,000 constituents. Amatul-Wadud can relate to the feeling of being overlooked by governmental figures. She credits an incident at the age of 17 where two young boys were dragged, beaten and left for dead in an abandoned building, with teaching her a “powerful lesson of what it is like to be forgotten and what happens when certain people are ignored by their elected officials”, said Amatul-Wadud.
Amatul –Wadud’s progressive platform prioritizes economic security for poor working class families; quality and affordable education; ensuring health, civil rights and safety of all Americans; fostering a peaceful, safe and secure world; combating climate change; and building a clean energy economy.
Although women make up less than 20 percent of Congress, Amatul-Wadud’s launch comes at the close of the “Year of the Woman”, which ended with a record number of women contesting elections nationwide, including 79 women running or seriously considering running for governor.
Speaking during her launch tour, Amatul-Wadud explained to a mesmerized crowd, “We need representation that reflects that someone is listening, engaged, qualified, interested, willing, relentless, persistent, brave, fearless and beholden to no one.”

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