Meet Columbus-born Congressional Hopeful Morgan Harper

Hanif Abdurraqib
Morgan Harper

The brick walls of Morgan Harper’s Columbus apartment are decorated with maps and to-do lists. A massive calendar displays a sprawl of months, culminating in a circle around March 17, 2020. She’s seated at a kitchen table that has been converted into a surface for strategy: papers, more calendars, a few schedules. To an outsider who doesn’t know Harper, it all might feel overwhelming. But the outsiders who don’t know Harper have begun shrinking ever since her 36th birthday on July 1, when she announced her intention to run for Congress as a challenger to ever-present U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty.

Beatty’s hold on Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District hasn’t seen a Democratic primary challenger since 2012, but the city is a different place than it was seven years ago. As Columbus shifts (read: gentrifies), there are newer victims of its shifting. The concerns of the city aren’t what they once were, in terms of economics, racial justice, social equity, and beyond. Harper is proposing a more progressive platform, one rooted entirely in her passion for the city she’s from.

Harper was born in the Ohio State University hospital and then given up for adoption. She lived in a foster home for nine months before being adopted and growing up on the East Side in the ’90s. She found refuge in the Livingston branch of the library, and eventually earned a scholarship to Columbus Academy. The navigating of different worlds raised a sharp awareness about social inequalities within the city.

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