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July 30, 2023

WATCH: At NAACP Convention, Pressley Delivers Love Letter to Black Boston

Congresswoman Celebrates Brilliance & Power of Black Community, Discuss Policies Necessary to Change & Save Lives

Video (YouTube)

BOSTON – Today, in remarks to the 114th NAACP National Convention, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) delivered a love letter to Black Boston. In her speech, the Congresswoman celebrated the brilliance, innovation, and power of Boston’s Black community, and discussed the bold, transformational policies necessary to change and save Black lives.

A full transcript of Rep. Pressley’s remarks is available below and video can be watched here.

Transcript: Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s Remarks at 114th NAACP National Convention

Boston, MA

July 29, 2023

Good evening NAACP!

What a beautiful sight to behold, look at this room. This room looks like a movement.

It is my honor to welcome you to the city that my husband Conan and our daughter Cora call home: Boston, Massachusetts.

And it is the honor of my life to serve the people of the Massachusetts 7th as your Congresswoman.

The first Black woman, the first person of color to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the House of Representatives.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due and evoke the name and the words of Shirley Chisholm.

When asked how she wanted to be remembered, she said she did not want to be remembered as the first Black woman elected to Congress or the first Black woman to pursue the U.S. presidency.

She simply wanted to be remembered as a Black woman who dared to be herself.

I’m so grateful, Boston, that you embolden and allow me to be an unapologetically Black Alopecia Queen.

That I can dare to be myself, to take up space, and to create space in the corridors of power and in policy- and decision-making tables.

Although I am a Congresswoman, more than anything, I seek to be a Representative.

A representative sent by the people with a mandate to Washington.

Family, this moment has been a long time in the making. And yet, it is right on time.

That we come together, to affirm our Black brilliance, to center our collective humanity and to fortify ourselves for the ongoing work of Black resistance.

I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you for taking the time to come together to organize and to strategize.

To be unapologetic in our Black brilliance and also our Black joy.

Especially in the midst of a backlash and an erasure of both.

Here in Boston, this great city, we are home to brilliant innovators, dedicated educators, and history-makers.

The first chartered branch of the NAACP.

This is the city where Martin and Coretta fell in love.

This is the city where Melnea Cass organized Black women to claim their right at the ballot box.

This is the city where Mel King mobilized generations to press for justice.

We are a city that shows up and shows out. We embrace our joy and take purposeful steps together to build a more just tomorrow for the babies coming up behind us.

Boston is also a city that tells its history, its whole history.

We don’t fold to revisionist narratives and a white washing of structural racism and policy violence.

No, in Boston, we will tell you how it is and we will speak plainly.

We do not sweep under the rug the history of red lining or the painful brutality of busing.

And as long as I’m at the table, I will be speaking some plain truth.

Because the truth will set us free.

We can’t set course for where we’re going until we know where we’ve been.

And where we are going is bright, family.

I am deeply hopeful, despite the conflicting times we find ourselves in as a nation, because I never lose sight of you, of the people.

And the people who have come together for this weekend are powerful.

We know who we are and we know whose we are.

We are powerful because we know that hope is a discipline. We know that it is one thing to set an intention, and it is another to live it.

And as we build beloved community, we commit together to centering each other’s full humanity.

Together, in word and deed, we will affirm that our time together at the 114th NAACP Convention in Boston, Massachusetts was where our next chapter of the civil rights movement began.

A chapter that is just. A chapter that is inclusive. We recommit to the shared work of liberation and we center the marginalized and maligned.

For those of you for whom this is your first time visiting Boston, perhaps you have asked the question: are there any Black folks in Boston?

Let this moment be a resounding and decisive “yes,” that indeed we have been here for generations, on the frontlines doing the work.

We have been doing the work to affirm that Black lives matter.

That Black history matters.

That Black wealth matters.

That Black health matters.

That Black joy matters.

We affirm that Black trans lives matter.

That Black immigrants matter.

That Black disabled lives matter.

That our Black men deserve to grow old.

That Black boy joy should be a rite of passage.

That our Black elders deserve dignity.

Our Black babies are beautiful, and so too are our crowns.

Shoutout to Massachusetts for being the fourteenth state to pass the CROWN Act.

Actually, the eighteenth—gotta get those facts right for the press.

That Black babies are beautiful, our crowns are beautiful, and Black mamas matter.

This is an unprecedented moment, but a moment that we will meet.

This moment demands bold, transformational policies that change and save lives.

Policies like student debt cancellation and baby bonds.

Treating affordable housing as a human right.

Investing in public transit as a public good.

Taking a public health approach to public safety.

And yes, reparations. Reparations, absolutely.

Alright y’all. Now, I know that I am preaching to the choir. But even the choir has to have rehearsal.

So the point is: this convention is an opportunity for us to mobilize and strategize, and a chance for us to celebrate our brilliance, our joy, our love, and our power.

I hope that when you leave this convention hall, you’ll leave a little more hopeful, a little more fortified, a little more emboldened to fight for the change that our communities demand and deserve.

And I want to say thank you.

Thank you to President Derrick Johnson. Thank you to Boston branch President Tanisha Sullivan.

Thank you for laboring in love. Thank you to every member of the NAACP, every volunteer, every dedicated board member.

We thank you for doing the work of activation, agitation, and litigation in the name of our liberation.

In 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final Sunday sermon, at that time he was one of the most reviled and hated men in America.

And in that sermon, he delivered a call to action challenging us to remain woke. Actually, he said “stay awake in the midst of a great revolution.”

In 2023, they seek to weaponize what it is to be woke. They want to lull us into permanent sleep state with their draconian policy violence and their scarcity budgets.

NAACP, stay Black, stay woke, and remain vigilant.

I love you family, and welcome to Boston.