I’m not going to pretend that representation doesn’t matter.It matters because it informs the issues that are spotlighted and emphasized, and it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions. That’s why it matters. You cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all of the people.
Ayanna Pressley, is the first black woman to serve on Boston’s City Council. She is also the first black Congresswoman from Massachusetts to win the 2018 midterm elections.
Born on the 3rd of February 1974, her childhood was anything but rosy. Her mother, Sandra Pressley worked multiple jobs to support the family while her dad battled addiction and was in and out of prison. He later turned out to be a college professor; a reminder to us all that our pasts does not have to dictate our future.
Pressley grew up on the north side of Chicago, a place she described as a tough neighborhood with bad influences all around and also a nurturing, positive place. She attended Francis W. Parker school, she was a cheerleader, model and did some advertisements. During her senior year of high school, she was voted “most likely to be mayor of Chicago”. She was the commencement speaker for her class.
Eventually, her parents got divorced and her mother moved to Brooklyn, remarried and got a job as an executive assistant.
In 1992, Pressley attended the College of General Studies at Boston University but left 2 years later because she had to take up a full time job at the Boston Marriott Copley Place to support her mother who had lost her job.
Pressley was the senior aide to congress member, Joseph P. Kennedy II. She was a political director for Senator John Kerry and later became the Massachusetts Constituency Director. In 2009, she stepped down from Kerry’s office to enable her run for office at the city council. She became the first black woman to assume office at the Boston City Council in its 100 year history. She created the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities to increase stable families, reduce violence and poverty, and promote women’s issues. She updated school district policies for pregnant and parenting students and developed sexual education and health curriculum that is now a permanent part of Boston Public Schools’ wellness policy. She is in support of universal healthcare, gun reform and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In 2011, Pressley opened up that she was a victim of sexual assault both as a kid and as an adult while she was at Boston University. She has used her experience to begin a public discuss about the sexual assault epidemic way before the #meToo movement.
In 2014, she was named one of the 10 Outstanding Young Leaders by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. And in 2015, she was named one of Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People. In 2016, she was named one of The New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch.
She is the first black woman member-elect of the United States House of Representatives for Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district after defeating Mike Capuano in the primary election and running unopposed.