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Bonnie Watson Coleman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bonnie Watson Coleman
Bonnie Watson Coleman.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byRush Holt Jr.
Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
January 12, 2006 – January 12, 2010
Preceded byJoseph J. Roberts
Succeeded byJoseph Cryan
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 15th district
In office
January 13, 1998 – January 3, 2015
Serving with Reed Gusciora
Preceded byShirley Turner
Succeeded byElizabeth Maher Muoio
Personal details
Bonnie M. Watson[1]

(1945-02-06) February 6, 1945 (age 75)
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)William Coleman (m. 1995)
EducationThomas Edison State University (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

Bonnie M. Watson Coleman (born February 6, 1945) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has served as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th congressional district since 2015. She previously served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1998 to 2015 for the 15th Legislative District.[2] She is the first black woman in Congress from New Jersey.[3]

Early life and career

Watson Coleman was born in Camden, New Jersey and graduated from Ewing High School.[4] She received a B.A. from Thomas Edison State College in 1985 after briefly attending Rutgers University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[5] Raised Baptist,[6] she currently resides in Ewing Township.[7]

In 1974, she established the first Office of Civil Rights, Contract Compliance and Affirmative Action, in the New Jersey Department of Transportation and remained the Director of that office for six years. In 1980, Watson Coleman joined the Department of Community Affairs, where she held a number of positions including, Assistant Commissioner, responsible for Aging, Community Resources, Public Guardian and Women Divisions.

She served on the Governing Boards Association of State Colleges from 1987 to 1998 and as its chair from 1991 to 1993. Watson Coleman was a member of the Ewing Township Planning Board from 1996 to 1997. She was a member of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1998 and was its chair from 1990 to 1991.[2]

Watson Coleman became the first African American woman to lead the State party when she was elected Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, on February 4, 2002.

Watson Coleman served as the Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2006 to 2010, as well as the New Jersey Democratic State Chairwoman from 2002 to 2006.


Watson Coleman's two sons, William Carter-Watson and Jared C. Coleman, pleaded guilty to holding up the Kids "R" Us store at Mercer Mall with a rifle as it was about to close on March 12, 2001; they were sentenced to 7 years in April of 2001 and ultimately served 5 1/2 years. Watson Coleman has acknowledged it in the past and introduced legislation, "that bars companies with more than 15 employees to conduct criminal background checks on candidates during the interview process". She argued for the law, saying, "One of the greatest barriers to a second chance in the state of New Jersey is a barrier to employment”; it was later passed and signed into law. In 2014, her son William Carter-Watson was hired by the Mercer County Parks Commission as an entry-level laborer. When asked for comment, Brian Hughes, the County Executive, said, "the county has maintained a policy of hiring ex-convicts in search of a second chance".[8][9][10]

U.S. House of Representatives


Following the announcement that Congressman Rush Holt would not be seeking another term in office, Bonnie Watson Coleman announced her intention to run to fill his seat in New Jersey's 12th congressional district.[11] Assemblywoman Watson Coleman is the first African-American woman elected to represent a New Jersey district in the United States House of Representatives.[12]

On June 3, 2014, she won the Democratic primary for the 12th congressional district.[13] She won the general election on November 4, 2014, defeating Republican candidate Alieta Eck.[14] She won 60.9% of the vote.[15]


On March 3, 2015, Coleman participated with fellow Democrats in the boycott of the speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress.[16]

In March 2016, Coleman, along with Rep. Robin Kelly and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.[17] "Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by myriad socioeconomic issues that diminish their quality of life and threaten the well-being of their families and communities. The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls gives black women a seat at the table for the crucial discussion on the policies that impact them while also providing a framework for creating opportunities and eliminating barriers to success for black women," they announced in a press release at the time.[18] They were inspired by the #SheWoke Committee, a group of 7 activists that reached out to lawmakers and staffers to start.[19]

She co-sponsored the International Megan's Law, to combat child exploitation and other sex crimes abroad. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in February 2016.[20]

In July 2019, Watson Coleman voted against H. Res. 246 - 116th Congress, a House resolution introduced by Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) opposing efforts to boycott the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel. The resolution passed 398-17.[21][22]

Committee assignments

She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,[23] the Congressional Black Caucus,[24] the Congressional Arts Caucus[25] and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.[26]

Political positions

Coleman speaking at the 2017 Women's March in Trenton, New Jersey
Coleman speaking at the 2017 Women's March in Trenton, New Jersey

Watson Coleman has been a strong supporter of programs allowing criminal offenders to reenter society.[27] Watson Coleman's two sons were sentenced to seven years in prison after committing armed robbery against a Kids R Us store in 2001. One of her son gained employment with a county agency following his release.[28] Watson Coleman also supports a ban of the type of assault rifles her sons used in the robbery. As a New Jersey Assemblywoman, she sponsored a bill that bars companies with more than 15 employees from conducting criminal background checks on candidates during the interview process.

See also


  1. ^ "PAGE BY PAGE REPORT DISPLAY FOR 12972690548 (Page 87 of 220)". Retrieved Apr 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Assemblywoman Watson Colemans's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature; accessed June 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "2014: Not a Landmark Year for Women, Despite Some Notable Firsts", Center for American Women and Politics, November 5, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2016. "Love and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) are the first African American women in Congress from their states."
  4. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey: 2004 Edition, p. 266. Lawyers Diary and Manual, LLC, 2004. ISBN 9781577411871. Accessed October 6, 2019. "The assemblywoman was born in Camden and attended public schools. She was graduated from Ewing High School, attended Rutgers University and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Thomas Edison State College."
  5. ^ Schaller, Thomas F.; King-Meadows, Tyson (2006). Devolution and Black state legislators : challenges and choices in the twenty-first century. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7914-6729-9.
  6. ^ "New Jersey-12: Bonnie Watson Coleman (D)". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  7. ^ Assembly Member Bonnie Watson Coleman, Project Vote Smart; accessed August 10, 2007.
  8. ^ "Mercer County hires Bonnie Watson Coleman's son to entry-level parks position". Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  9. ^ Sulaiman, Abdur-Rahman. "N.J. gun rights leader questions Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman about her sons' gun crimes". The Trentonian. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  10. ^ Wilson, Tony; Frost, Soctt. "Watson Coleman's sons plead guilty in robbery". The Trentonian. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Mercer County Democrats rally support for Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman's campaign for Congress". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  12. ^ D'Amico, Diane. "Civil rights struggle still alive in US, Watson Coleman tells Stockton symposium", The Press of Atlantic City, October 6, 2015. Accessed June 4, 2017. "The first black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress, Watson Coleman said Congress has not addressed the country’s economic divide and does not even seem willing to step up to the plate."
  13. ^ Davis, Mike. "Watson Coleman wins Democratic primary for 12th congressional district". Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  14. ^ "With Bonnie Watson Coleman's 12th District win, local Democrats will pick Assembly successor". Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  15. ^ "New Jersey Election Results". New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  16. ^ "WHIP LIST: 56 Democrats to skip Netanyahu speech to Congress". The Hill. March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  17. ^ Helm, Angela (March 26, 2016). "3 Black Congresswomen Create 1st Caucus on Black Women and Girls". The Root.
  18. ^ "Reps. Watson Coleman, Kelly, Clarke, Announce Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls". U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman. Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  19. ^ Grimaldi, Christine (April 29, 2016). "#SheWoke Fuels First Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Event". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  20. ^ "". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  21. ^ Schneider, Bradley Scott (2019-07-23). "H.Res.246 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  22. ^ Foran, Clare. "Who voted 'no' on the House resolution opposing Israel boycott movement", CNN, July 23, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019.
  23. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  27. ^ Guest, Star-Ledger (Sep 9, 2018). "N.J. Congresswoman: 10 things we need to do to fix U.S. prison problem | Opinion". Retrieved Apr 2, 2019.
  28. ^ Mcevoy, James (2014-11-13). "Mercer County hires Bonnie Watson Coleman's son to entry-level parks position". nj. Retrieved 2019-10-17.

External links

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
Leonard Lance
Chair of the New Jersey General Assembly Appropriations Committee
Succeeded by
Nellie Pou
Preceded by
Joseph J. Roberts
Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly
Succeeded by
Joseph Cryan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joseph J. Roberts
Chair of the New Jersey Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Joseph Cryan
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Rush D. Holt Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mark Walker
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Bruce Westerman
This page was last edited on 23 July 2020, at 13:35
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