tv Representative- Elect Ayanna Pressley at Edward Kennedy Institute CSPAN December 31, 2018 6:53pm-8:04pm EST
of the 116th congress. democrats assume control of the house of representatives while republicans increase their majority in the senate. this congress has been described as the most diverse in history with 100 new members come in to washington including more women and minorities than ever before. join us noon on thursday at the 116th congress gavels into session. the election of a new speaker, and congress will begin its work. new congress, new leaders, live on c-span and c-span2. before her first day in congress on thursday, representative presley reflects on making history by becoming the first african-american woman to represent massachusetts, and issues she plans to work on. she spoke at the edward kennedy institute in boston.
[applause] good evening everyone, and welcome. what a great treat to have you here this evening. i have great pleasure to serve for that kennedy institute for the united states senate. it is a pleasure to welcome you to this evening's edition of getting to the point. we are honored to welcome a trailblazer, congresswoman elect ayanna pressley. we are delighted to have the boston globe with us. i do for being with us. [applause] no stranger to congress, ayanna worked for joe kennedy the second and the john kerry, but she is now headed to congress in her own right, as the first woman of color to represent the baystate in
.c.hington, the sed [applause] elect isesswoman credited for a grass roots movement carrying her in her election this fall, and she will tell you grassroots organizing is what she has always been about as she often refers to herself as her mother's child. we know how much you credit your mother's love, faith, persistence, and working in community organizing for forming your consciousness and inspiring your journey in public service. we know you worked with congressman shirley chisholm, the first woman to run for a major party as your political hero. it was a rare sight to see candidate pressley without her own byoc --bring your own chair
--on her lapel. that will be available for you to use here this evening on your snapchat filter. the institute recently unveiled a seat at the table in a project to recognize congresswoman chisholm's legacy, and highlight her inspirational words, if they do not give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. [applause] although over the last several schoolswith local creating their own chairs, showcasing the reasons why young people deserve their own seats at the table, it is our pleasure to be joined by many of those participants here tonight. after the program i am by you to join us for a reception and a chance to look at those chairs in the hallway.
stick around and see those chairs, and talk to those who created them. tot week we issued a call represent historic figures who brought seats to the table and helped others do the same. among notable figures, i am proud to announce an artist to be selected will create a chair for congressman elect pressley. [applause] ayanna pressley planted her seat at the table, paving the way for others to follow. she established a committee on healthy women, families, and communities to stabilize communities, reduce violence and poverty. she has earned local and
national attention for her efforts for women and people of color, and strengthened support services. in 2014, the boston chamber of commerce named her among the 10 outstanding leaders. in 2015 she was boston magazines 50 most powerful people. and presented with emily's list rising star award. in 2016 she was named one of the new york times 14 young democrats to watch. watch we have, and watch we will intoanna pressley sworn congress in a few short weeks. [applause] this evening's discussion and exciting conversation, we are honored to introduce boston
.lobe's editorial on the intersection of business and politics to gender issues in the workplace and so much more. contributor to boston public radio, and a regular contributor to new england cable news. foris a three-time finalist the global commentary, and was among boston magazines list of the 100 most influential people in boston. [applause] please join me in welcoming congresswoman elect and shirley to begin tonight's discussion. [applause]
shirley: i have a cold, forgive me. tonight, we will talk for about 30 minutes, the congresswoman elect, and after 30 minutes, we will open up q&a. i believe will start in the gallery, there will be microphones roaming around. we have a lot of time to talk tonight, right? you might do most of the talking with my raspy voice. my first question is, how has your life changed? i feel like i turn on the tv in you are on cnn, or if you're not, they are talking about you. what is life like now? ms. pressley: first, i want to thank the edward m kennedy institute for hosting us this evening, thank dr. grant, the entire team that made this event possible.
as someone who was behind the scenes for 16 years, i know that nothing happens without a team, so can we salute the entire team here? [applause] ms. pressley: i also really appreciate that it is a team comprised of a lot of young women, so i am saluting that as well. to share this stage and moment with you, at this replica of a body, and an institution for which i have such respect him and to share this stage with you, a woman i admire tremendously, it is all very humbling. that is what i am feeling most of all. i have not stopped. i want to be very transparent in saying i am tired. [laughter] ms. pressley: but i do consider myself to be a happy warrior. i have made of now -- made a valid to myself that even though i will be indefatigable in the pursuit of justice, i will still find joy in the work.
our freshman class was at harvard for the final week of new member orientation and it was very surreal. brian stevenson, he is the author of "just mercy," and someone who fights for the condemned and is an incredible champion or criminal justice reform, he said to never lose sight of the fact that hope is our superpower. that is how i'm feeling right now. humbled, hopeful, and as i have traveled the country post my own primary and general election to try to support those like mike as the -- espy in mississippi, and there were tough fights in
florida and georgia, it has been incredible the response not only in the commonwealth, but throughout the country. what that has really revealed to me is the gravity of our victory, which was not anything a was really connected to. i had been so focused on the campaign, of lifting up the inequities and disparities in the massachusetts seven, of readying myself to take this work on at a time when the country is at such a crossroads, our democracy at a crossroads, our party at a crossroads, this district at a crossroads -- truthfully, i had not given myself much time to be joyful or celebrate. all i was sitting in was responsibility.
traveling the country, i have given myself a little bit of permission to sit in celebration, because i have an appreciation for the gravity of what we accomplished and what it means to so many people. that is what i am feeling right now, is humbled, hopeful, acutely aware of the responsibility at this time in our country, and -- and i am also align myself to feel a little celebratory now that the gravity is setting in. shirley: i heard you have a fear of flying, is that true? how do you deal with that? ms. pressley: hopefully this is one of the things that makes me allegedly more relatable and endearing, that i am so transparent about these things. [laughter] ms. pressley: i know for a long time, that was not something
that people in public life would be revealing and transparent about -- anxieties, phobias, fears. but yes, i do not love flying. i'm sure that has a little bit to do with the lack of control. [laughter] but i have been pushing through. i remember at one point, maybe within the first six weeks of the campaign, one of my aides was conferring in the corner and it looked suspicious, so i said, what are you talking about? they said, we are wondering which one of us should explain to you that you are going to be flying if we win, in order to do your job. [laughter] ms. pressley: it has been a great way to build community. i love that about flying. you know how you sit next to someone and you exchange on their information in your life story, and you say let's stay in touch and then he never speak to them again? [laughter] ms. pressley: but at the moment you feel a connection, and you are in it together. i wish i remember to his name, but recently when i was flying to mississippi to campaign for
mike espy, a lovely nigerian doctor allowed me to cripple his issa -- bicep during a very turbulent plane ride. so i am working through it. shirley: take us back to primary night. what was going through your mind, and the to expect to win? ms. pressley: has anyone seen this video that went viral when i found out i won? [applause] ms. pressley: if you saw that video, you know the answer. [laughter]
ms. pressley: that was organic amazement, joy, surprise, incredulity, disbelief. what the video did not capture is a moment action -- moment after i got out of the camera shot, i immediately got on my knees and said a prayer of thanks, because i am a spiritual woman, a woman of faith here -- -- faith. i needed a moment to commune with my mother, who is probably the only person in the universe not surprised by this. she passed away, she transitioned eight years ago. so i had that moment. to answer your question, i knew we had a path to victory but i was not optimistic we would win. in the dictionary, the sort of text book definition of victory, i knew there would still be a victory because of what i could see in feel around us. the poles had us down by 13 points. i did not put too much stock in polling. after 2016, neither should you. [laughter] ms. pressley: i wasn't putting too much stock into the polls, and i know they understandable
our electorate, the voters likely to vote for me. i knew they weren't capturing the electorate i was expanding. and, you cannot poll transformation. what we were seeing and feeling out there was something transformational. i do believe that is because we were in community, in bodegas, in church basements, bus stations, t stops, listening and being led by what we heard, not pulling -- polling, but what we were hearing and learning in community. we were engaging in something so much deeper than the transaction of asking for a vote. we were engaging in something transformational. we were extending the table of democracy, not engaging new voters, but new voices.
i'm trying to usher in a politics and governance that is cooperative and more transformational. the polls were not in our favor, i knew they were in contradiction to what we were seeing and feeling out there. i knew when i embarked on the journey would be lonely and uphill and bruising. we live in a dark blue commonwealth, the massachusetts seven, certainly a dark blue district, and we don't primary democrats. not having the support of the establishment nationally or locally -- i did not take offense at this. i am not a neophyte. none of this was surprising. i was keenly aware of what we were up against. i knew we had a path to victory but i was not sure. five minutes or so before that
video, i was sure we had lost. i was working on my speech. there is only one other person in my life the last decade who has really ever been part of that process, his name is jamie chisholm, my former campaign manager. we had agreed i was only going to write one speech, and i was going to make it work either way. and my team was being very quiet, and i was very nervous about how quiet they were. i said to them, i think you all know what the deal is that you are afraid to tell me. if we have lost, you need to let me know right now because i need time to process and digest it. i am about to go into this union hall, shout out to electrical workers 103. they were very brave and disruptive, the first union to endorse me in my run. [applause]
ms. pressley: i said, i'm about to go out on the stage. this is what i was imagining, that i was going to go on the stage and look into the audience in the front row, there would be people, and i would look in their eyes, and the light i had seen behind their eyes, the hopefulness i had seen behind their eyes this entire campaign, that the light would be extinguished. and i was trying to summon within myself what i needed to go out on this stage and to try to reignite that spark and say we did not lose. because of everything i knew we had accomplished. 250 incarcerated men had a debate watching party, endorsed our campaign, and agreed they would organize a minimum of three people in their family to get to the polls on election day.
we had 14-year-olds knocking in 100 degree heat and hours a day. we had elders throughout the massachusetts seven organizing in faith houses and communities. people felt seen and heard for the first time in a long time. people in a fetal position since 2016 came out. [laughter and applause] ms. pressley: we have given a lot of people hope and restored hope for many. i felt we have lost i was trying to reconcile in myself, how do i say to all of these people we lost but we still won? and then they came in and said, you won. i have some good friends here that -- hello, mark. if anyone knows me and you watch that speech, i was not there. i was having an out of body experience. that was -- i have done so much better than that speech. i [laughter]
ms. pressley: it is because i was not connected to it. up until the very minute, i was to working on my speech, trying to live it and embrace it and internalize it, and wrap around my brain that we have lost, in what was i going to say? shirley: how many minutes -- you thought you had lost, how many minutes to stew? was it only a few minutes? ms. pressley: no, no. i thought for about 30 minutes, 30-40 minutes that we have lost. i should say, justina took my phone. a i was out in the trenches you meeting and engaging with community in voters, and they will took my phone, which is in already an issue, because for a those of you who follow me on social media, that is me.
it is not anybody else. i could not tweet, i cannot refresh a page as returns were coming in. i was in a blackhole, i had no idea what was going on. what you saw in that video, my tears, joy, amazement, that this belief was all incredibly organic and reappeared -- and real. shirley: this is a question that i thomas -- that i, as an editor or of the globe, i want to ask you, did you think you would get the endorsement of the boston globe editorial board? [laughter] ms. pressley: no, i did not think anybody was endorsing me except maybe my mother from on high. [laughter] ms. pressley: obviously my
husband and stepdaughter because they had to. honestly, look -- i made the decision to run not because i did not still find joy, reward, and purpose being a boston's city council her, or because i thought i was better than anyone. i was not raised that way and it's not how i function. i just thought i offered something different, that given the car -- the crossroads we find ourselves at as a country, that a job description for a member of congress had changed, and that my activist leadership approach and cooperative governing was in alignment with the needs of the district and what the times required and
demanded. and i was bothered by the fact that there was all of this national narrative about simply resisting trump, when i'm know we are in a new world order. we have to resist and progress. so, i was not running a campaign about donald trump, i was running a campaign about the massachusetts seven, which is the most diverse and an equal district in our delegation, arguably one of the most unequal in the country. and the fact that in a three mile radius, a bus trip from cambridge to rock spirit, that life expectancy dropped by 30 years and median household income by $50,000, i had to tell the truth that sure enough, what is happening with the current occupant in the white house is exacerbating these entrenched inequities and disparities. but they existed long before that man descended the escalator at trump tower. [applause] ms. pressley: so i wanted to do something about that, right? i expected this would be very lonely. as i said, lonely, uphill, and bruising. him but my mother did not raise
me to ask permission to lead. i raised my hand and made the decision to based on my assessment of the position to be an effective member of congress and the current climate, that i was in alignment with what the times required. and i wanted to focus on the district and the inequities in disparities in the district. so i think -- there has been a lot of analysis about why we won. some people have said it was because people were very angry, and this was a referendum against the occupant and the white house, and a referendum against hate, and i disagree. i believe it was a mandate for hope. that's what it was, not a referendum against hate, a mandate for hope. the can is what people were responding to is that we were not putting vision, aspiration, and hope on a shelf no matter how sobering the political landscape. ultimately, we were successful. the polls had us down by 13 points, but we won by 17. every unlikely community,
according to conventional wisdom and assumption about who is a likely voter -- which to me is dog whistle language, coded language that not everyone desires or deserves to have a seat at the table of democracy. we know based on data that these are the same people that think people don't show up and vote because they are ignorant, indifferent, and don't know enough to care about democracy. but that is not the truth. some people don't vote because they know too much. many people don't vote not only because it is not accessible, right? and convenient, but because of broken trust and broken promises, shaped like broken systems. 54% of our primary voters -- this was the first time they ever participated in a primary. student vote, at the boston university student village alone, we grew by 400%. 400%. [applause] ms. pressley: the latino vote,
which is 7% of the electorate for the massachusetts seven, grew by 71%. no poll was going to capture that. i think that ultimately, this work is about the future of our democracy, the soul of the democratic party. it is bigger than one electoral cycle. this is not a buildup for 2020, this is bigger than the buildup for 2020. this is about igniting and expanding the electorate and engaging new voices, because we are at a crossroads where the preservation and vitality of our democracy are at stake. shirley: you mentioned several times the democrat establishing -- establishment did not back you when you ran for congress. you are not the first woman to be asked to wait her turn.
going forward, how should the party support women candidate and not just the usual suspects? ms. pressley: [little chuckle] again, i did not expect to have a lot, if any establishment support. i made a decision not to personalize it. i knew this would be a hard one for a lot of people. i'm going to digress for a moment to say, what i struggled with -- and for those of you who don't know me, there is nothing wrong with ambition, but i am no ambitious upstarts, ok? i worked on my first campaign to elect world washington, the first african-american in chicago, at the age of 10. i worked for joseph kennedy for four years, senator john kerry 11 years, and have served on the boston city council eight years. as a policy maker, elected
official, thought maker. 70% of boston is in the massachusetts seven, of which it was a top vote getter for three elections. i feel that every box that people asked you to check, i have done real work, i have been thoughtful, i have labored in love, extended great sweat equity to the city of boston and our party, working to elect him across -- elect democrats. people do place some value on these things. people are saying i'm running a campaign on identity politics. progressives. very offensive and hurtful, and i will tell you why.
because that is a very predictable play out of the gop handbook. that is not what i would have expected from democrats, and certainly not progressives i have never asked anyone to vote for me because i am black and a woman. to be clear, i am both and unapologetically proud to be both. [applause] ms. pressley: however, that is not the totality of my identity. i don't make binary choices because the world asks me to, about who i am. i am a wife, a mother, i was a caregiver to my mother. i'm a thought leader, and activist leader, and elected official. ima survivor, right?
while i would never asked anyone to vote for me for that reason, i will say the representation matters. i'm trying to understand why if a veteran runs saying he's running to fight for veterans, no one has a problem with that. if an iron worker says they are running for workers rights, no one questions this. that charge of identity politics is only lobbied against candidates of color and women. [applause] ms. pressley: and at the end of the day, you cannot have a representative democracy if everyone is not represented. so the value add of a representative democracy is a denver of perspective of opinion -- diversity of perspective, of opinion and thought. the debate is more robust. it means new issues are lifted up and spotlighted, and the solutions you develop more innovative, more enduring. what i was challenging in the midst of all of this, to the party, is are we really who we
say we are? or do we espouse values of diversity and inclusion that stop being true when you're talking about power and wealth? do we espouse values as a party that make for great #and proper -- #space tags and bumper -- hashtags and bumper stickers, but we are not prepared to put in the sweat equity to make real? you cannot issue a love letter to black women, the most reliable voting constituency for the democratic party, the most reliable voting constituency for the last three presidential elections, you cannot lift up the value add of black women both on the ballot -- because our candidates, the diversity of our candidates this cycle is what expanded the electorate, inspired the electorate -- and what we do in the electorate as voters, and then suddenly question the legitimacy and viability and my entitlement to run. so that was very painful.
it was not the people did not support me, it was that people i had toiled in the democratic trenches with, people i slept on the floor of campaign headquarters with, all of a sudden decided the totality of my contribution and the basis of my campaign was about my race and gender. so, what does the party need to do? walk it like we talk it. that's what we need to do. [applause] ms. pressley: walk it like we talk it. that is across the board in every way. several days ago, i had the honor of addressing many of the leaders and donors at the democratic national committee, many of the dnc members in washington at the invitation of chairman perez.
and it was a tough conversation that i initiated, i suspect, but it was a family meeting, and i felt like it was important to have a tough conversation. these were some of the issues that i lifted up, because when we were shellacked in 2016, do you know how many postmortem meetings and briefings we had about why did that happen? so now, here we are emboldened, coming into the house with a democratic majority, but we have not taken inventory of lessons learned. why are we walking in in a democratic majority? because of candidates that ran on bold, aspirational platforms, because of candidates that rejected corporate pac money, because they organized community and build grassroots coalitions, because of candidates that invested in ethnic and specialty media.
we have to take stock in inventory so that we are applying the lessons learned from the midterm elections of 2018 both to build up for 2020, and beyond. after i was finished, i said to chairman perez, i guess i won't be invited back. [laughter] ms. pressley: he said, on the contrary, i knew who i was inviting. and that was on purpose. because he agreed that we need to push the conversation. we cannot as a party espouse an aspirational vision for the country that we don't live within our party. we can't do that. we have got to pay our interns a living wage. all of these things, these are things we cannot push for the country that we are not living under our own tent. i look forward to continue to be part of shaping the conversation, and to informing the takeaways from 2018 and applying them.
shirley: in washington, you will be in a place where congress values seniority. how would you make your voice heard, being a junior member in congress? ms. pressley: how will i make my voice heard? [laughter] ms. pressley: that the key question. -- that is a cute question. [laughter] ms. pressley: let me tell you a story. i went to an incredible school in chicago. they did not give report cards until eighth grade. they gave comment cards. from kindergarten until eighth-grade, every comment card said, "she struggles to use an inside voice." [laughter] ms. pressley: every, single one. i don't think i will struggle. i have a strength of conviction. i will not struggle to raise my voice. i am currently lobbying and
doing the work to get appointed to the committees i think will best positioned me to deliver for the massachusetts seven. my first choice is education and labor. [applause] ms. pressley: maybe that was premature -- that is where i started. i'm also looking closely at financial services. so i am doing that work right now. i think ultimately my contribution will not be limited to the committees i serve on it i will also -- serve on. i will also join progressive
values caucus. i plan to join the progressive caucus, the women's caucus, the congressional black cautious -- lack caucus. this is the biggest congressional black caucus in the history of a caucus. i think it will make my voice heard through the values and issues based caucuses i joined, the committees, or committee i am assigned to, and also the laws i write in doing that in cooperation with all of you. i'm excited to legislate. these systemic inequalities and disparities i was referencing, they did not just happen, they were created. we have segregated schools because of segregated housing. we have a wealth gap because of unequal access to the g.i. bill. we have a mass incarceration because of the war on drugs. these systemic inequalities and disparities, these conditions were created by policy, and it is my contention that these policies were created by man, and ergo, they can and should be disrupted by this woman. and that is why iran. -- why i ran.
[applause] ms. pressley: i'm excited to legislate. that's the only way you disrupt intergenerational poverty, intergenerational trauma, intergenerational poor health outcomes, is to legislate. shirley: you were in washington for orientation recently. tell us, what is the back story of #squad? how did it form? how did you bond, and who is in the squad? ms. pressley: oh my goodness. it happened very organically. it is literally -- is like any other orientation. going to a new school, going to campus as a freshman, everyone warned you about the freshman 15. you're trying to find your way
around campus, you are learning new rules, written and unwritten come in to have people you immediately gravitate toward and feel a bond to come because of the kinship of feared -- of shared experience. some of my sister colleagues, we have got to know each other through the course of the midterm election because we had either endorse each other or we had a very similar walk, challenging popular and entrenched incumbents. there was already a bond in the kinship -- shirley: you knew some of them before washington? ms. pressley: some of them, absolutely. you needed some of them -- someone you could speak to him -- speak to in shorthand about the joys and pains. because it is such a unique walk. it happened very organically. i think the first picture, we had been asked to participate in a panel, think it was for run, vote, lead about encouraging more women to run and vote and leave.
the room they had us in, the backdrop such a great irony and contradiction because it was all white men. there was this stark contrast and visual of rashida and alex and myself against the backdrop of these men. and so the journalist had said, this would make a great shot, can we get a picture? so we took a picture. some of us are more active on instagram and things. i don't think we had any anticipation it would be viral. we just did a quick #squad come and the rest is history. but i think why it was so resonant is because of the influence of social media, and because of how we have showed that we decide to govern in a way that is accessible and engaging, and we make it feel
accessible. that is a good thing. so that people say, ok, i could do that one day. this is not just for the wealthy, the privileged, and the elite. this is not just for men. if not just for people of a certain age. the great thing about electoral politics, movement, community and coalition building, is there is no eligibility age, and there is no shelflife either. it's interesting, i have been lumped in as a millennial, but i am old. [laughter] ms. pressley: they revoke all of the things i used to be part of, the young professionals and all of that, i am 44. i have been at this since i was 10. only in politics are you an upstart in the rising star after decades. that happened very organically, and we have an alignment in many ways of values and policy priorities, and we are all
finding our way. i want to caution you guys against something. no group is a monolith. and i really want to encourage all of you to allow each of us, and i don't just mean the squad, i mean myself and all of my new colleagues, and in particular the women -- we are compared to one another in a way people don't do with men. we are not a monolith and we are not a sorority. we are leaders, and we each come to this uniquely and authentically with our own a lived experience and our own approaches. so please, give us the runway to lead uniquely and authentically as ourselves, and challenge yourself to embrace the diversity of the narrative of women's leadership. [applause]
shirley: i still have a lot of questions, but i have run out of time. we have to go to the audience. we will start in the gallery. we are going to start asking questions -- oh man. [laughter] shirley: the guy right here in red -- you. >> hello, how are you doing? i would like to ask you, as soon as you get into congress, what points are you going to in acts at first? what is your main concentration? ms. pressley: ok. i will be sworn in -- i will be sworn in on january 3 in washington. [applause]
you all can clap but you cannot go. i get two tickets. one for my husband and one for my daughter. there will be a swearing in, in the district because i consider this a shared victory in roxbury. i am not sworn in yet. before i even took an oath of office, i began advocating for gun violence prevention. [applause] i began pushing my colleagues and nancy pelosi, that was a big part of my negotiation with her. our first bill as democrats that was being proposed to bring to the floor was about campaign finance reform, ethics reform, and then it was revolving and talking about voting rights. very critical, especially reinforced in the backdrop of what happened in florida. i said our closing argument to the american people was on health care, infrastructure, the things that impact people's lives in a palpable way every single day. you are walking in with a
democratic majority. i said we have a mandate from this electorate to be bold. i wanted assurances that we would move expediently in discussion on a gun bill. i got those assurances. i have been appointed to the gun violence prevention task force. this is not about finding the lowest common denominator. it is about being cold and offering something that will save the most lives. universal background checks. a registry. keeping guns out of the hands of those that are battling mental illness or who have a history of being domestic abusers. this is a transcendent issue. it is urban, it is rural, it is suburban. the task force i have been appointed to is bipartisan. it has gun owners, hunters, lucy
mcbath from georgia. shout out to her who has definitely turned her pain into purpose. robin kelly from illinois. certainly a city besieged by gun violence. that is my first priority. i want to say this. everyone asks what will i do in the first 100 days? or what is the first really want to write, or what is your number one priority? i want to challenge all of your thinking in that i, as a voter, what i resent is that we have allowed elected officials for a long time to get away with communicating the needs of a community through a single issue. to the lgbtqia community, elected officials will say i support marriage equality. what about all the transgender folks being murdered or conversion therapy? what about employment and housing discrimination? they will say to immigrants and refugees, i support comprehensive immigration.
what are you doing for ell students? do you support worker visas, drivers license? to women, they will say i support reproductive freedom. i don't know what that means about the rest of my experience. i want to challenge all of us to bear in mind that people do not live in check boxes, you should not give folks a pass or they get to speak to an entire community with an answer about a single issue. no one lives in big checkboxes. we live in intersectionality, we live in complexity, nuance, we need legislation that does that same thing. i cannot tell you my number one priority is the affordable housing crisis and not also link that to transit inequities and transit that is reliable. i cannot talk about housing and transit and not talk about jobs. i cannot talk about jobs and the economy and not talk about wages.
all of these issues are interconnected with one another. we have to tackle them that way. people want to know my priorities, all of it. [applause] every last -- anything. gun violence, criminal justice reform, transit equity, environmental justice, food justice, everything. shirley: next question will be the woman in the front right here. >> i am a doctor or a candidate in boston at a school for social development. i am doing my dissertation on you. [laughter] [applause] i am hoping you will allow me to interview at some point. ms. pressley: not right now. [laughter] i am honored you would include me and i want you to get a good grade.
what is your name? somebody talk to her. >> my question i would like to ask you more in depth, why run at this moment in history? why now? ms. pressley: we telegraphed it. we were on the boston commons and we said tomorrow we run and today we march. nobody believed us. [applause] for me, it was about the fact that the systemic inequities and disparities i worked my entire life to prevent, to mitigate the impacts of were all worsening under this administration.
rollbacks and threats to our civil rights tensions and freedoms. assault and insults to our democracy, to our humanity, to our civility, our planet. everything i cared about was under attack. all the inequities and disparities i was working to a dress were worsening. as i said, those things all existed before the current, but it was all getting worse. i wanted to be a part of a alliterative, legislative body at a time when the country was at a crossroads. in unprecedented times, the man -- demand unprecedented leadership. i hope will yield unprecedented legislation that leads to transformative change.
the other thing i would say is i thought my governance style was in alignment with where we need to be as a country. this is the coalition into movement. the affordable care act was saved not for the conviction of lawmakers, for the courage of individuals and families who organized and demanded that their lawmakers see the humanity in them and do right by them. this is the uprising of the citizen activist. we need leaders around the policy and decision-making tables and in the core doors of --er -- car doors of power
power that extend a hand of partnership. that are going to be intentional about redeeming people's relationship with government. about restoring hope, strengthening and rebuilding trust. for all of those reasons, that is why i raise my hand. it worked out. [applause] shirley: we are going to bounce down here. >> this is a policy question.
what is your opinion on the lowering the voting age to 16? [laughter] [applause] ms. pressley: i enthusiastically support it. i think it is a complete falsehood to assume that young people suddenly at the age of 18 will spontaneously combust and want to participate in democracy. we need to be fostering and building that relationship and engagement and creating space for you to lead. we are making policy decisions every day that impact your life now and future generations. you deserve to have a stakeholder in that in a real way. i am all for it. [applause] [laughter] ms. pressley: absolutely, i am already on the record. feel free to look it up. i do also want to say to the young people here, i am developing a youth advisory council. it is very important to me that we are looking up use voice. i am doing regular press with high school and college
journalists as well. i am annually -- i don't know if you want no but this congressional district has the largest concentration of college students of any congressional district in the country. for that reason, in wanting to stem and prevent brain train and being accountable to those thousands of students, i will be annually convening a summit old with college and university administrators as well as students. i do want to be intentional about doing this work cooperatively. as an aside, if you go to my website i have been developing and equity agenda. you may recall throughout the campaign i said the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power, driving and informing policymaking. however you define that pain, if you are an expert i need to stay in close proximity to that issue. whether it is gentrification, food injustice, gun violence, making show the -- sure the roadways are safe for everyone. i want to continue to engage community to understand the
problem and develop solutions. on sunday, i will be having another equity agenda roundtables. this will specifically be on immigration. it will be in east boston. we have done this on every issue including with youth. go to my website and check on my equity agenda. give me your feedback and input. you can do that with the #apequityagenda. if you have ideas, or questions that we could not get to today. >> hi, my name is casey, first i want to congratulate you for being an african-american congressperson from massachusetts. this question i will ask you is very near and dear to me and i have been advocating for it. gentrification, the money in the politics. massachusetts is turning into manhattan. it is affecting people that own a home. people are losing homes. especially in boston. what is your plan and do you
support the 28th amendment, which is giving power back to the people and taking operational money out of politics? i don't know how that affected you when you were running for office, do you support the 28th amendment? ms. pressley: i hope i'm answering this correctly. i did not accept corporate pack money, i will not now is a member of congress. i don't offer that with any level of righteousness. the issues that are consequences to the massachusetts district including gun violence, the opioid epidemic, environmental injustices, i could not accept money from fossil fuel industries or the gun lobby or pharmaceutical companies that
are contributing to this. there's too much dark money in politics. it is obstructing our justice and our progress as a nation. i am proud of the fact that i had people on my campaign who experienced homelessness, who volunteered every day because they felt heard, included, and they felt a stakeholder in democracy. i want that for everyone. i do not want anyone to feel that they are of lesser value or their opinion matters less based on social economic status. on the issue of gentrification and displacement, i would say i consider housing to be a human right. it is a social justice issue. it is a critical social determination. this is why one of my proposals in my equity agenda is medicaid funds should be able to be used for housing. access to affordable, clean and safe housing determines every other outcome.
i have been at the table mitigating a number of community benefit agreements with developers, demanding more housing that is affordable. we have to address income inequality and the living wage. people have to have more purchasing power in the community and there is a lot of emphasis on home ownership. most people in the massachusetts seventh are renters and they deserve some relief. there are efforts legislatively that i am looking at that would allow for tax breaks and subsidies to provide that sort of relief. if you are making less than $100,000 a year and spending more than 30% of your income on rent, that is not sustainable.
you deserve a break. quite literally. i have been on the front lines of those fights with developers and do plan on continuing to lean in on these issues, even though i will be on the federal level. this is a crisis for the country and for the region. the only way we can address this is on the city, state, and federal level. we have to look at these issues regionally. go look at my equity agenda and my housing platform. >> i want to congratulate you from many respects. i am very proud to have worked when i was young to help elect tom atkins to be the first black city counselor. ms. pressley: he did incredible work with the naacp as well. i consider him -- i owe him. i am a beneficiary of what he did.
there is a room, this was an effort made possible in partnership with former at large boston's city councilor and steven murphy. there is no room named for tom atkins at boston city hall. the first african-american city counselor. thank you for that. >> he would be very pleased to see what you have done. i want to ask you about a different issue. i have taken a look the last couple of years and decided there are three most important problems in the world. the first is poverty and inequity. the second is global warming or climate change. the third for me as nuclear weapons. i have decided as a retired engineer to my efforts into nuclear disarmament. i don't know that you have taken
a position on it. some of us would like to talk to you and give you some background on it. ms. pressley: let's do it. >> i will ask a special thing. senator markey of california have a joint bill, same in the house, same in the senate. it will be reentered this year. i hope you will follow the example of your predecessor in becoming a cosponsor to the markey bill.
i was of the group that talked him into it and i want to talk you into it. [laughter] ms. pressley: let's do it. i feel bad, i feel like we only did two appear and three down here. >> i also want to extend congratulations because i feel like boston has been very spoiled with your voice and advocacy for many years. as part of my job i travel to places like indiana, ohio, and illinois. i could hear and echoed the voices of students who are admired by you there. i have been following and am inspired by your message of the local politics. i am curious if you could speak a little bit to what you like to see the boston's city council continue to take up, specifically your successor in
that position as well. ms. pressley: for those of you who do not know, our city charter is written in such a way that if someone resigns ac or passes away, or leaves in the middle of a term, whoever for the at-large seats. there are 13 seats on the city council. there are nine district counselors and four at large that represent the entire city. i served in one of the at-large seats. elections occur every two years. i was reelected to a fifth term in november, 2017 and then declared in the january, 2018. there is still your left on my term -- a year left on my term. whoever placed fifth in the last election walks onto the body automatically. it is fair to say that they have already earned the trust of the electorate and earned a fair amount of votes. that person is -- i will be
resigning on january 2, the former member -- the former state rep many years ago will be walking onto the council. as far as what i hope for my successor, we diverge on most issues. what i would say is that i don't know it is fair she is my successor. i do not see the seat as mine. there are four at large seats. i am vacating this one and she will walk into it. what do i hope the council will continue to do to take up tough issues, to continue to keep equity at the center of every debate whether we are talking about education, wealth, communities that are healthy and safe, justice. to keep equity at the center of the discussion. eight years ago, or nine, when i was running for the boston's city council a lot of people would ask me what are your plans to a the achievement and
opportunity gap. i would respond to prevent and mitigate the impacts of trauma. i believe it is a barrier to learning. i was literally laughed out of the room. people said i was coddling our youth, that trauma was an issue that only affected a certain youth in certain communities. trauma is a part of the daily lexicon. everyone talks about it. i did not do that work alone. what i am going to say, when you have a diversity of effective opinion or thought, new questions get asked. someone has to ask the question. when someone asks the question that has never been posed before, it shifts the air and change in progress are usually on the way.
my very first budget cycle as an at-large austin city counselor -- austin city counselor, every agency before me said what about the girls? their responses were sparse at best. now, when they come to those budget cycles they come with binders. some would ask the question and because someone asked the question, and now they know they have to have the answer. what i hope is that as a council we will continue to equity at the center of every discussion, and we will keep asking the tough question. we are leaving the city in good hands. it has been an honor to serve beside my colleagues. >> so that was our final
question, and is the perfect final question. i have city council questions i never got to, but you did it right now, so this is great. elect i got a presley, i can't wait to just say congresswoman. it is a mouthful. thank you for our conversation, incredibly inspiring, and hopeful, and we need a lot of hope these days. thank you for coming here. ayanna: thank you to all of you. >> for participating. ayanna: thank you to the institute, dr. graham, thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
announcer 1: on thursday, the first day of the new congress with democrats take control, leaders will vote on a package of bills to reopen the federal government. it would not include money for a border wall, but there would be $1.3 billion for border security. politico writes this would fund the homeland security department until february 8 while other closed agencies like transportation, commerce and agriculture would be funded for the rest of the fiscal year through september 30. houston mcgrath plan to vote, but senate republicans are likely to -- unlikely to accept. the government shutdown has .ontinued for 10 days and a look at what is ahead tonight, bernie sanders of vermont posts a climate change town hall on capitol hill. a number of members of congress give farewell speeches. a summit on public health
challenges in the u.s. later. ♪ announcer 2: the united states senate, a uniquely american institution, legislating and carrying out constitutional duties since 1789. >> raise your right hand. announcer 2: wednesday c-span takes you inside the senate, learning about the legislative body and its workings. >> arguing about things and taking them around and having great debates is a thoroughly american thing. >> the longer you are in the senate, the more you appreciate the grueling nature. announcer 2: we will look at the compromise with interviews, key moments in history an
unprecedented access, allowing us to bring cameras into the senate chamber during a session. follow the evolution of the senate into the modern era from advice and consent to their role in impeachment proceedings and investigations. the senate, conflict and compromise, a c-span original production, explores the history am a tradition and roles of -- explores the history, tradition and roles of this american institution. be sure to watch online at c-span.org/senate to learn more about the program and watch original full-length interviews with senates, view -- senators, view farewell speeches, look at the chamber, the old chamber, and other locations. announcer 1: senator bernie sanders of ver h