July 31, 2023
Pressley Introduces NAACP President Derrick Johnson at Convention’s Plenary Sessions
“A man, a Black man, who speaks truth to power and makes sure the world knows our power, the power of our voices, the power of our votes.”
“He is fierce and effective in his articulation of Black America’s most pressing challenges, providing clarity on how best to confront and disrupt them for our collective advancement.”
BOSTON —Today, at the 114th NAACP National Convention, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) introduced NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson ahead of the convention’s first plenary session on Monday. In her remarks, Rep. Pressley highlighted President Johnson’s fierce leadership and efforts to confront Black America’s most pressing challenges.
Transcript: Pressley Introduces NAACP President Derrick Johnson at Convention’s Plenary Sessions
July 31, 2023
All right. I tell you what. Y’all look good. You look so beautiful.
Family, one thing’s for sure. We don’t look like what we’ve been through.
But what a gift to be proximate to and to be immersed in Black brilliance, Black joy, and Black power, as the City of Boston plays host to the NAACP Convention for this 114th convening.
Now I have to say, as a proud member of the Boston branch of the NAACP and a lifetime member of the NAACP, I want to thank Tanisha Sullivan, Michael Curry. I want to thank Chairman Russell. I want to thank every single branch.
But of course I’m biased to the Commonwealth. So shout out to Boston, to Cambridge, to Brockton, to Springfield, and to Randolph.
Thank you all for joining us for this very special weekend, and for the work that you do day in and day out. All the board members, all the members, all the volunteers who made today possible: we thank you.
The Boston we are today is far from the Boston of 1982, the last time we hosted this convention.
As the first Black woman and person of color elected to represent Massachusetts in the House of Representatives, I am so very humbled to be a testament to the change that we have created since 1982.
Now, I’m certain even the ancestors in their wildest dreams could never have predicted the City of Boston would be represented in the halls of Congress by an unapologetically Black, bald, Black woman.
But it is because of them. And I’m grateful that I can show up in the world fully, authentically and unapologetically as myself.
Together, we have transformed our understanding of what’s possible and brought the voices of community to the halls of power. We have organized and advocated for people-centered policies that advance equity, justice and healing.
We have demanded bold investments that go as deep as the hurt and harm and policies that meet people’s needs and their dreams.
But we still have work to do.
But change has always come from the people. Change has always come from Black people on the frontlines in the work of liberation, even if our own was sacrificed.
There’s an incredibly rich history here of Black activists and advocates in Boston who have stood up and rejected the mantle of complacency and inspired incredible change.
And in this moment, in this place, in community with leaders from across our nation who are committed to making sure that all of our communities have the support and resources they need to thrive, I am confident.
I’m confident in our strength and the possibility of our collective power.
But family we all grow weary in the work of well-doing, in the work and the pursuit of Black equality, freedom and healing.
But my discipline, hope, and my clarity of what is possible comes from the blueprint of earlier chapters in our NAACP movement. A blueprint of organizing, strategizing, mobilizing, praying, agitation, litigation, legislation.
Many of these names have been recorded in history. Many have not. They are nameless and faceless to us, but their mark is indelible and undeniable.
They sent up a prayer, they sang a freedom song, they packed a lunch. They vaselined an elbow or a knee. They risked their life.
It was a movement made up of children, of people young and old, domestics and doctors, athletes and artists, faith leaders, labor leaders, Black scholars, and journalists.
That blueprint guides our steps today.
And I know that it informs the actions of a great leader, a great Black man who represents, who respects, and honors our history by practicing the lessons learned.
A former president of the Mississippi NAACP and Vice Chair of Board of Directors. A man, a Black man, who speaks truth to power and makes sure the world knows our power, the power of our voices, the power of our votes.
He defends Black lives, Black leadership and Black liberty. He fights fiercely in the ways of the NAACP and then did in the 1900s to end the evil of lynching. Today, he fights to end police brutality.
In the same way the NAACP fought to dismantle Jim Crow, today, he fights to dismantle an emboldened white supremacy.
He comforts the aggrieved in the wake of the public health crisis of gun violence, those burdened by student debt, those who’ve been denied reproductive justice or access to the ballot because he knows that who you vote for determines who’s elected and who’s elected determines the policies, and the policies determine every damn thing.
Who lives, who dies, who survives, who thrives.
Because this oppression is one that was legislated, it was codified in budgets. And so this great leader holds elected officials accountable, from City Hall to the State House, to Capitol Hill to the White House.
He is fierce and effective in his articulation of Black America’s most pressing challenges,
providing clarity on how best to confront and disrupt them for our collective advancement.
I am grateful to this lawyer, to this humanitarian, to this leader. There is no one better to lead us in these righteous fights.
When we fight, when we organize, we win.
And I am so grateful to this great man, this great Black man, for advocating to assure that we get what we all deserve to demand the change we know is possible.
Ladies and gentleman, NAACP, our 19th President and CEO, Derrick Johnson.