In the US, democrat Cori Bush has been elected in Missouri’s first congressional district, making her the first black woman to represent Missouri in the US Congress.
An experienced registered nurse, single mother and veteran black lives matter activist, Bush’s win is one that will go down in the record books, and her victory speech, delivered on election night, matched the significance of the historic moment.
Flanked by her family and supporters, Bush told the story of where she’s come from and what it means to her to be elected.
“I was running,” she began.
“I was that person running for my life across a parking lot, running from an abuser. I remember hearing bullets whizz past my head and at that moment I wondered: “How do I make it out of this life?”
“I was uninsured. I’ve been that uninsured person, hoping my healthcare provider wouldn’t embarrass me by asking me if I had insurance. I wondered: “How will I bear it?”
“I was a single parent. I’ve been that single parent struggling paycheck to paycheck, sitting outside the payday loan office, wondering “how much more will I have to sacrifice?”
“I was that Covid patient. I’ve been that Covid patient gasping for breath, wondering, “How long will it be until I can breathe freely again?”
“I’m still that same person. I’m proud to stand before you today knowing it was this person, with these experiences, that moved the voters of St Louis to do something historic.”
“So, as the first Black woman, nurse, and single mother to have the honor to represent Missouri in the United States Congress, let me just say this. To the Black women. The Black girls. The nurses. The single mothers. The essential workers. This. Is. OUR. Moment,” she said.
In a definitive victory, Bush managed to defeat her opponent Republican candidate Anthony Rogers by a 79% to 19% margin.
The First. pic.twitter.com/h3o0GxeFLRNovember 4, 2020
Cori Bush became politically active in 2014, after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and her first campaign for election, in the 2018 primary season, was followed in the documentary Knock Down The House, that also featured other female candidates including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“For years, we’ve lived under leadership that shut us out of our own government,” Bush continued in her victory speech.
“For years, we’ve been left out in the cold: protesting in the streets, sleeping in our cars or tents, working three part-time jobs just to pay the bills. And today, today, we, all of us, are headed to Congress – St Louis strong!
“My message today is to every Black, Brown, immigrant, queer, and trans person, and to every person locked out of opportunities to thrive because of oppressive systems; I’m here to serve you. To every person who knows what it’s like to give a loved one that “just make it home safely baby” talk; I love you.
“To every parent facing a choice between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head; I’m here to serve you. To every precious child in our failing foster system: I love you. To every teacher doing the impossible to teach through this pandemic; I’m here to serve you. To every student struggling to the finish line; I love you.
“To every differently abled person denied equal access; I love you. To every person living unhoused on the streets; I love you. To every family that’s lost someone to gun violence; I love you. To every person who’s lost a job, or a home, or healthcare, or hope; I love you.
“It is the greatest honor of my life to accept the responsibility to serve every single person across Missouri’s first congressional district, as your first-ever Black congresswoman-elect. This is our moment.”
“Everything I do begins with those who have the least, who’ve suffered the worst, and who have the greatest to offer. Why? Because I myself have lived paycheck to paycheck. I struggled for years under the burden of student debt. I’ve been evicted by landlords. I’ve worried about how I was going to put food on the table for my two kids. I’ve been underinsured and uninsured. And for every one of those stories that I can tell you about my life, I know there are thousands more in our community. And those are the stories that I am carrying with me and will uplift in the People’s House as your congresswoman.
“It is my job now to serve you – not just lead, not just demand, but serve you.
This moment is brought to us by us – by our movement for social, racial and economic justice. Now, our movement is going to Congress.
And we will meet the challenges of this moment as a movement: side by side, arm in arm, and with our fists in the air – ready to serve each other until every single one of us is free.”