Known for: First black woman elected to the British Parliament, representing the London constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Elected in 1987.
Dates: September 27, 1953 -
Occupation: reporter, politician
Background: Diane Abbott is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants to the United Kingdom, Reginald Abbott, welder, and Julia Abbott, nurse.
Family: Married to David Thompson, 1991-1993, architect born in Ghana. One son.
Education: Harrow County Grammar School for Girls; Cambridge, MA history, 1973.
Positions Held: Home Office (1976-80), television reporter (1980-84), Westminster City Council (1982–86).
Founder and President: Black Women Mean Business
After college, with a desire to "do good," she entered the civil service, working for the Home Office. From there, she went to the National Council for Civil Liberties, and then took a job doing research for Thames Television, where she became active in the union.
Her first elected position was to the Westminster City Council, and then she ran for Parliament, losing in her first try, and then, trying for another seat, won and became the first black woman in Parliament in 1987.
She married in 1991, had a son a year later, and then, when the marriage broke up and the couple divorced in 1993, became a single mother -- a state the Conservative Party regularly criticized. In 2003 she sent her son to a private school, which was a controversial move.
In 2010, Diane Abbott stood for election as a left-wing candidate for Labour party leaderhsip, but only received 7% of the votes in the first round.
Her politics, criticized by some as too radical, has focused on race issues, peace, women's issues, and civil liberties. Her candid and strong statements, especially about race, have been matters of considerable controversy.