CHICAGO (WLS) -- Uplifting those around her, sharing stories and building better communities for Illinois residents is what motivates Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.
"The power is not in the title or a seat. The power is in the strength of our community," Stratton said.
She shared more on her goals as a state leader, the importance of authenticity in her role and how she hopes to motivate young Illinoisians in episode 12 of "Black & Powerful" with ABC7's Samantha Chatman.
Before becoming lieutenant governor, Stratton said becoming chair of the Local School Council at Chicago's Kenwood Academy was her first elected office, serving the same South Side high school she attended. As time progressed, Stratton realized she wanted to have a greater impact.
"I remembered I was looking at what was happening in my own community, and there were ideas and issues I felt very passionately about that I did not believe the person who was representing us was addressing those issues in a way that I thought the people in our community deserved," Stratton said. "I thought to myself, 'someone should run against this person,' I didn't know it was me."
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Stratton represented Illinois' 5th District from 2017 until 2018. She was then tapped and elected to serve as the first Black lieutenant governor of Illinois.
"It's not just about breaking the barrier," Stratton said. "It's about making sure that you scoot over and make sure there's room for others to follow in your footsteps. That's the example I want to set."
Stratton is a native of Chicago's South Side and lives in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood with her family. She studied broadcast journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated from DePaul University's College of Law.
Stratton said being considered "Black & Powerful" is fulfilling her ancestors' wildest dreams.
"It's really about the pride of representing my community. The pride of thinking about my ancestors as a descendent of formerly enslaved people, only four generations removed, and the pride of recognizing that the power they demonstrated, that I can emulate every single day, is something I can also show the next generation what's possible for them," she said.