Delegate Shaneka Henson ’06 represents her district and Coppin with pridePublished Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
Coppin State University alumna Shaneka T. Henson, Esq. shares her story.
Talk about Coppin Eagles soaring, Shaneka T. Henson, Esq. received her B.S. in Criminal Justice in ’06. She continued her education and received her JD from the University of Baltimore and was admitted to the Bar in 2010. And as if she could not add another accomplishment to her list, this go-getter represents Annapolis and surrounding counties as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Delegate Henson was inspired to go into politics by one of her professors, retired-Senator Ralph Hughes. He was one of her criminal justice instructors, and the first state elected official she ever got to know. “We would talk about crime, criminal justice and the laws, and when we came back the next semester, he would say that it wasn’t the same anymore.” She found it fascinating that her professor was impacting Maryland’s laws. “We would debate the concepts in class and say how this or that policy wasn’t fair and had the power to change it. I thought it would be amazing to get an opportunity to do that one day.”
Delegate Henson has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2019. But her foray into politics started in 2017 when she ran for city council and won. “And it was in my second year on the council when Speaker of the House, Michael Bush died. I got a call from our Senator for the district telling me he had passed, and they were going to appoint someone to the delegate seat. And I should throw my hat into the ring.” An attorney general, at the time, filling the Speaker’s seat meant she would have to leave her job. “I stepped out on faith and was chosen by the Central Committee to fill the position.”
Admittedly, Delegate Henson said she had some big shoes to fill. Speaker Bush held his seat as delegate for 32 years and as Speaker of the House for 16. “Obviously I am very different from my predecessor. So, the challenge was to make the job my own. I have continued to support a lot of what he supported, but I have broadened the scope and I make sure the community feels like they are part of the legislative process.”
Delegate Henson also believes that women, especially Black women should have a major role in policy making. “Our experience is kind of a double dip into the world [Black and women]. We are unique because we have layers. We have lots of challenges, but through them we have developed strength, and gifts, and mechanisms that make us dynamic leaders. We know how not to take “no” for an answer.”
Delegate Henson does not take her influence for granted. She loves being a champion for the people. “I love it. It’s a privilege,” she said. “I have so many goals, bills that I have started. I want to keep my mind and eyes open so I can complete my goals.” There is no doubt she will fulfill the good work she has started.