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MIAMI — A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson says Wilson will return to Washington Monday after receiving hateful threats. The Florida Democrat stepped into the spotlight this month when she criticized the tone of President Trump’s condolence call to the widow of a fallen soldier.

For nearly a quarter century, a mentoring program founded by Wilson in north Miami has encouraged boys and young men to walk the straight and narrow and make the most of their lives. 

The program is called 5,000 Role Models of Excellence. When 400 boys were inducted this week, there was boisterous praise for Wilson. 


U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson at the funeral for Sgt. La David Johnson.

CBS News

Price Destinobles says the program — and Wilson herself — helped him get to college. He had an absentee dad and a mom in prison.

“I think of her as a mother. Like, I remember the first time I spoke with her — just hearing her heart and seeing how genuine she is,” Destinobles said. 

Wilson’s district is largely African American and includes some of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods. She started as a firebrand principal at an elementary school which now bears her name and became an advocate for at-risk youth even before entering politics. 

Another success story from her mentoring program: Sgt. La David Johnson.  

It was no surprise to people in Miami that Wilson would be at his family’s side after he was killed in Niger, or that she’d speak out against what she considered an insensitive call from the president to Johnson’s widow. 

“He never said the word ‘hero.’ He said to the wife, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he was getting into.’ How insensitive can you be?” Wilson told CBS Miami. 

The White House accused her of using a private moment for political gain. “I think it is appalling what the congresswoman has done in the way that she has politicized this issue,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 

Hilda Ewing said Wilson’s outreach to Gold Star families isn’t new: Wilson was there for Ewing’s family in 2004 when her son, Jeremy Ewing, was killed in iraq. 

“It was real good because she came and she offered her help any way she can,” Ewing said.  

Wilson does have critics in Miami who say her list of legislative achievements is short. But her district is heavily Democratic — one that Mr. Trump lost last year.

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