Sewell is the daughter of Andrew and Nancy Sewell of Selma. She was valedictorian of her class at Selma High School. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in international and public affairs from Princeton University, a master's in politics from Oxford University, and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1992. Her thesis on female black politicians was published in the UK. She clerked for U. W. Clemon before going into private practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell, a New York-based law firm with offices in London.
In 2004 Sewell returned to Alabama to help care for her father. A year later she became a partner in the firm of Maynard Cooper & Gale in Birmingham. She has served on the boards of the St Vincent's Foundation, the Alabama Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Cahaba Girl Scout Council. She was a member of the 2006-07 class of Leadership Birmingham and the 2008-09 class of Leadership Alabama.
Sewell won the 2010 Democratic primary to fill the 7th District seat left vacant by Artur Davis when he left congress to campaign for Governor of Alabama. She is the only Democrat representing Alabama in the 112th Congress and was the first African-American woman elected to Congress from the state. She defeated Republican challenger Don Chamberlain in the 2012 general election, and was re-elected without opposition in the 2014 and 2016 general elections. She serves on the Committees for Agriculture and for Science, Space and Technology.
|Representative, 7th Congressional District of Alabama
- Sewell, Terri A. (1993) Black Tribunes: Black Political Participation in Britain. London, England: Lawrence & Wishart ISBN 0853157413
- Pier, Ashley (August 17, 2007) "Sewell has answered the call since returning home." Birmingham Business Journal
- Diel, Stan (May 6, 2010) "Campaign 2010: 4 Democrats seek to succeed U.S. Rep. Artur Davis in Alabama Congressional District 7." Birmingham News