Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Widowed
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) is one of the most recognizable members of Congress thanks to her hats.
The lawmaker almost always sports some type of headgear — usually a fedora or cowboy hat, and always color-coordinated to her outfit.
She says she has hats in every available color and there are too many of them to count.
But one place you won’t see her wearing them: the House floor, where headgear is forbidden.
“I think that’s kind of crazy but it’s a rule I asked about when I first got here, and when they told me I could not wear them, I didn’t challenge it,” she said. “I take the hat off and rest it on my lap or put it on the floor by my seat.”
She added: “I came here to create jobs. I’m not going to challenge the rules.”
Her love of hats came from her grandmother Frederica, for whom she is named.
“When I was a little girl, they all wore hats and gloves. I was always a prissy little girl who wanted to be like my grandmother.”
She noted that none of her children got the hat gene, but that her 2-year-old granddaughter, Shelby Frederica, is showing some promise.
“She likes to dress up, so I’m hoping she likes to wear hats.”
Wilson’s four grandchildren, who live just down the street from her Miami home, are the congresswoman’s “world.” She enjoys babysitting them when she’s not busy with her congressional duties.
Her personal style carries over to her office, which is decorated with animal prints, African art and multiple photographs of Wilson with President Obama.
Wilson, a former high school principal, uses Obama as a role model for her charity, Five Thousand Role Models of Excellence, which encourages African-American boys to stay in school.
“They have no role model in their life, no one to help them learn how to be a good man. Most of them were being reared by their grandmothers or their mother was working several jobs,” she says.
From the charity’s founding in 1993, Wilson would constantly drum in her message to stay in school, telling the boys “if you stay in school, you can be anything you want to be, you can even be president of the United States — and then it came true.”
— Emily Goodin