Representative-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) took Democratic donors to task on Tuesday during a private session.
BuzzFeed News acquired audio of Pressley's speech, which she called a "family meeting." Addressing influential Democratic National Committee donors, the next representative from Massachusetts 7th District spoke about race, the evolving Democratic party and lessons she believes party leaders ought to take away from the 2018 midterms.
Pressley, who is Black, told her audience she'd just spoken to constituents about gun violence, and in the course of the conversation was asked a question that she repeated: “Do Black lives only matter in election years when our votes are at stake?”
The soon-to-be Congresswoman said it was up to the party to prove this isn't the case and said her victory was in part thanks to Black people and other historically disenfranchised people who have entrusted her with improving their lives.
“Those young people are demanding and expecting more from me," she said. "And I owe it to them. I ran to fight for the ignored, the left out and the left behind. And that is not only true for the electorate. Together we’ll do that work beginning with our own party.”
Pressley also spoke about gender, including the wave of women elected to the House, telling her fellow Democrats they can't be content with "making history," but they must prepare themselves to do the work "to make a lasting, transformative change.”
“Now we must push ourselves to ask the tough questions about whether or not we provided them with the institutional support so we can break through more glass and concrete ceilings as rapidly as possible,” she added.
She called the sea change election, which will bring the U.S. its most diverse House of Representatives ever, "a mandate for hope" and said the new Congress is more than a reaction to Donald Trump.
“I reject this shallow analysis and narratives about our campaign that have summed up our victory as one that was a referendum against hate," Pressley said. "In the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation, what I saw — what I bore witness to — was a mandate for hope.”
According to Boston Magazine, many people in the audience were visibly uncomfortable with Pressley's words. She didn't flinch after noticing this and said, “I’m okay with [making people uncomfortable] in the name and in pursuit of progress.”
She challenged those put off by her words and everyone in the audience to ask themselves about what their party stands for and whether its officials are actively working to uphold party values.
“Are we really who we say we are?” she asked. "Will we go in the direction of worry, weariness or indifference? Or in the direction of joy, of peace, of equality and justice?”
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