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December 1, 2023

VIDEO: Pressley Eulogizes Black Matriarchs from Massachusetts 7th Congressional District

Congresswoman Honors Generational Leaders Saundra Graham, Pearline James, and Mukiya Baker-Gomez

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Pressley delivered a speech on the House floor in which she eulogized three Black matriarchs from the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District: Ms. Saundra Graham of Cambridge, Pastor Pearline James of Dorchester, and Ms. Mukiya Baker-Gomez of Roxbury.

A transcript of Rep. Pressley’s remarks in honor of the three women is available below and video is available here.

Transcript: Pressley Eulogizes Black Matriarchs from Massachusetts 7th Congressional District
U.S. House of Representatives
November 30, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember three generational leaders who have earned the honor of being eulogized in this great chamber, and in perpetuity in our Congressional Record.

Saundra Graham, Pearline James, and Mukiya Baker-Gomez.

Three incredible Black women whose love for community was manifest in their historic achievements and the legacy they invite all of us to aspire to.


Mister Speaker, I rise to mark the passing of Ms. Saundra Graham.

Saundra Graham’s contributions to Cambridge and the Commonwealth far out pace her impressive and well-earned list of titles—first woman of color elected to the Cambridge City Council, the first woman of color to be the Vice Mayor, six-term State Representative, Secretary to the National Black Caucus of local elected officials, founder of the Massachusetts Childcare Coalition, co-founder of the Riverside Cambridgeport Community Development Corporation, among others.

She truly was a trail blazer on a mission to do good along the way and she wasn’t afraid to make good trouble in the name of justice, both inside and outside of politics.

She was a tenacious truth-teller and I count myself amongst those who will miss her righteous reprimands.

Her impact is an indelible one which will endure throughout our Commonwealth and in her loving family, which I know was her greatest legacy, as she was a proud mom, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother.

May she rest in peace and power.


Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an incredible woman of faith, Pearline James.

In church, I grew up singing the song they will know we are Christians by our love. And indeed, Mrs. James was God’s love in action.

Pastor Pearline James served God and her community as an associate pastor at Full Life Gospel Center in Dorchester, she did this with love, dedication and compassion for all God’s children.

It’s no surprise as one of 21 siblings and the second eldest that she was a mother and a nurturer to many.

She brought life and love to every child and family that passed through she and her beloved husband Evan’s childcare center in their home, JP’s family childcare, in the 1970s.

She was passionate about education and at the age of 60, she returned to school, earning a degree graduating with a 3.8 GPA.

While Miss James laid in hospice, the true impact of the love she imparted into the city was on full display, and nurses were quoted saying she had no less than 300 visitors.

Her daughter Danella said her mother often would invoke the lyrics of “It Is Well With My Soul,” a gospel hymn whose words include:

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 She is survived by the great love of her life Evan, by her daughter Danella, Rosemarie, Debbie, 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.


And finally, Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a woman, a leader, a mentor, a brilliant strategist, whose shoulders so many historic electoral firsts stand on, including myself, Mukiya Baker-Gomez.

In 2018, I became the first person of color to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the House of Representatives’ 230-year history.

That foundation, that possibility, the literal electoral blueprint to winning elections in Boston and building coalitions, began with Mukiya Baker-Gomez.

Her political acumen and shrewd counsel were enviable.

Her commitment to community, unwavering and unshakeable, especially to Black people.

Her every move and her impact outside of politics has been even greater.

She played a key role in an inclusive economy, fighting to ensure that contractors of color would be prioritized.

She was a history-maker, and although she never chased a title, it was important to me to eulogize her because I will not have her contributions erased or unacknowledged.

Mukiya, thank you for everything. I love you and I miss you.

She is survived by the love of her life Kevin, her loving children Teleisha, Kenyatta, her siblings and a host of family by blood and by bond.

Thank you Mukiya for your sacrifice, tenacity and for always speaking truth to power.