Political passion: Law student previously worked for federal government

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Lydia Munn’s interest in politics was piqued at age 13, watching MSNBC with her father.

“He explained the political system to me in a way that made sense to the real world,” she says.” It was no longer in the abstract. I could see our government at work—or at least on television. The excitement each night was enticing. My interest grew from there.”    

That passion led to her working in the nation’s capital, after earning her undergrad degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Michigan. She moved to D.C. with an internship for a nonprofit established by the Obama administration. The office was in downtown D.C. and Munn attended meetings with the executive branch in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), next door to the White House. “Through the internship, I got a West Wing tour and I knew I was on the right track,” she says.    

She then found full-time employment as a Development Associate through the Joint Center for Political and Economic Students, a think tank focused on policies affecting Black people.  “That’s something that spoke directly to my consciousness,” she says. “The work was fulfilling but challenging.”    

When a full-time entry-level position on Capitol Hill opened up, Munn jumped at it.  “I was with all the people I watched on MSNBC for years. Funny enough, that was the only channel on in the Senate office all day,” she says.    

Munn saw all of the U.S. Senators and was able to speak with some. 

“Many are exactly as they appear on TV,” she says. “Once, Senator Elizabeth Warren complimented me on my lei after the Hawaiian delegation had their annual Hawaii celebration—a highly anticipated event for Hill staffers with Spam, BBQ sauce, and Hawaiian rolls.”   

At an event for Black staffers, Munn met all three Black senators— Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott—who spoke about their camaraderie and the importance of the staffers being there. “I have great respect for each of them,” Munn says.

“I worked the front desk of our office, so I got to see and talk to everyone that came in to meet with the Senator.

“Another time, when my family came to visit me at work for a tour of the Capitol, we had lunch in the Senate Dining Room and Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski from ‘Morning Joe’ were having lunch at the same time as Ivanka Trump, separately.”   

Now a 2L student at Wayne Law, Munn has always been interested in government and how society works. “The law is a huge part of that—it establishes these parameters that we all operate under without really even knowing what they are,” she says. “I’ve also had a passion to learn from a young age so continuing my education was always in my plans.”   

Long term, she sees herself working at the intersection of government and private business.    

This past summer she interned for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, observing Zoom hearings and drafting opinions for the judge.    

With African, indigenous, and European lineage, Munn notes the complexities of the nation’s history are proudly portrayed in her heritage.

“One of my aunts has done extensive research on the history of my family and the Allotment Era in Oklahoma where blood quantum still dictates the rights of decedents of slaves and native people,” she says.

“My father’s family is from North Carolina and we’re the descendants of indigenous people who hid in the mountains to escape the Trail of Tears. My maternal family is from Oklahoma, only having been forced there through removal. Some natives owned slaves; some former slaves joined native communities after they escaped. Both sides of my family moved to Detroit during the Great Migration in search of better paying jobs.

“It’s all very fascinating to me.”

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