It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH gets to know a Member of Congress through five fun questions. This week, we found out a few things about Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), including the story behind her legendary hat collection. Q: What is your favorite Florida sports team?
A: The Miami Heat. I’ve been a fan since they brought on Udonis Haslem. Udonis Haslem is a product of a mentoring program that I established 20 years ago in the Miami public schools: the 5000 Role Models of Excellence program. That’s why I love the Heat so much, because Udonis is a hometown boy who they gave a chance.
Q: You had a long career in education before entering public service. Do you remember one teacher who had a particularly strong effect on you?
A: Miss Ruth Jones, my fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, She was the meanest lady in the whole world. And then as I grew up, she was the most influential person in my life. She kept in touch with me through college. She kept me abreast of what was new in education. When I finished college, I went back to that school and taught, then she was my peer. When I became a teacher, I tried to emulate her.
Q: If you could trade jobs with anyone in the world for a day, who would it be and why?
A: An astronaut. I would like to know what’s out beyond the solar system. I’m very spiritual. I believe I would see things that no one else did. But only for a day!
Q: What restaurant do you have to visit when you’re back in your district?
A: I always go to Jackson Soul Food, in the heart of [Miami’s] black community. During segregation, Duke Ellington and Lena Horne would come and perform there because they couldn’t perform anywhere else.
Q: You are known for your tradition of wearing hats. Can you tell us about that tradition?
A: It all started with my grandmother, whose name was Frederica also. She wore hats and gloves. I just wanted to be like her, so I started wearing hats. I just like to dress up, I guess, and I got that from her.