Marvelous Woman Monday

With a historic upset at the recent primaries, Ayanna Pressley is on track to become the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress!!

Ayanna was born in Chicago to Sandra and Martin Pressley. Sandra worked multiple jobs to support her family and was a community organizer for the Chicago Urban League fighting for tenant’s rights. Martin eventually became a college professor after years of struggling with addiction and incarceration throughout Ayanna’s childhood. Ayanna attended the College of General Studies at Boston University, but took a leave of absence in order to work and support her mother who had lost her job. She later enrolled in Boston University Metropolitan College where she took additional coursework.

She interned for Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II while at Boston University, and worked for him full-time after leaving school. She started by assisting constituents, but was promoted to work as his scheduler, then eventually became his senior aide. She served as Senator Kennedy’s political director in 2009 where she managed his relationships with elected officials and community leaders.

In November 2009, she was elected to the Boston City Council where she became the first woman of color to serve in the Council’s 100 year history. She faced a competitive re-election in 2011, but clenched the top spot among the at-large candidates. She placed first in over half of the 22 wards in Boston. She went on the win again in 2013 and 2015, and placed second in 2017.

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In January 2018, she announced her intention to challenge incumbent U.S. Representative Michael Capuano for the Democratic Primary nomination in the Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District. The District is the only district in the state that is not predominantly white. She has received the endorsements of Representatives John Lewis and Maxine Waters.

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She received further endorsements from labor unions, several grassroots movements, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chair John E. Walsh, and other former and current state and city politicians. She received further attention for her campaign after the upset of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. On September 5, 2018, Ayanna defeated Capuano by a margin of 59%-41%. She does not currently face a Republican challenger, so she should be representing her district in the U.S. House of Representatives come November. Jahana Hayes is also running for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, and if she wins, then she and Ayanna will be the first women of color to ever be elected to Congress from New England (that honestly shocks me).

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Ayanna is an ardently anti-Cheeto calling him a “a racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man.” She is a survivor of sexual violence, and has committed her life to combating all forms of trauma and to activism through policy change. She also called for the abolishment of ICE as a “existential threat” to immigrant communities. I cannot wait to watch her in action!

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Further reading:

“Ayanna Pressley and the Might of the Black Political Left“

“This is the first wave of an invasion”

Ayanna Pressley’s Victory: A Political Earthquake That Reflects a Changed Boston.”

“Editorial: Change on way with Ayanna Pressley“

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