Missouri’s first Black congresswoman-elect Cori Bush: ‘This is our moment’

This week, St. Louis native and veteran Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush made history, becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress to represent the state of Missouri. “I just won this seat from a 52-year dynasty because I stood up for Black lives,” Bush said in a video interview with Yahoo News two days after her convincing win. “I stood up for brown lives and for babies in cages. I stood up against all of the oppression and the systems that have been holding our community down for so long.”

Video Transcript

CORI BUSH: I'm not changing my AAVE. I'm not changing. If I want to put on my big dolphin earring, that's what I'm going to wear. I'm going to be exactly who I am, and that needs to be accepted in the Democratic Party and across the board. Accept people the way that they are, because if you don't, times have changed, and you will see yourself in a position that you didn't think you'd ever see yourself in. Ask some of the people that aren't going to Congress again this year. My name is Cori Bush, Congresswoman-elect of Missouri's 1st District.


Been a couple of days since the win, and I am feeling amazing, overwhelmed, honored, humbled, excited, nervous all at the same time. This is a huge step. And the thing is that locally, there is nobody I can turn to to say, hey, how did you do this, or how does this work? So it's like, blazing a trail and carrying the burden of the fact that it's 2020 and I'm blazing the trail.

To the black women, the black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers, this is our moment.


This is our moment, to me, means we fix the problems in our communities. We are oftentimes, you know, made to feel like we have to be lower than those people who are in office or who have the money, that have the access. Those are the people who are the movers and the shakers, and then you just get whatever crumbs they, you know, drop down to you because you're not at the table.

I pushed back on that because the powers messed up and showed us that if people stand up and if you work together, you know, if you can have your individual power, but when you put that thing together collectively and you have that one voice, you know, that you can see change. And so now that I see that and so many of us see that, this is our moment to say, you know what, you didn't fix it before. You had time to do it, and now we're going to do it our way. So we'll galvanize our folks, and we'll go ahead and we'll fight the system.

I'm already a part of the squad. Like, that's my family, you know? We're already one. But the squad is big. The squad is anybody that is like-minded that just wants to see a change for our country, a change for humanity headed in the right direction with our progressive values and a love for humanity. Fight this thing together.

I think what's missing right now is that connection with just a different group of people in the community who have great ideas, but who aren't the names, the titles, the movers and the shakers, the-- those with the money and-- and those that have the connections to big corporations and all of that. Talking to the people who are actually out there in the street organizing. Like, that's where it is right now.

And I don't understand why-- why people, especially people in power, people in leadership, they're not paying attention to the writing on the wall. I just won this seat from a 52-year dynasty because I stood up for Black lives. I stood up for brown lives, for babies in cages. I stood up against all of the oppression and the systems that have been holding our community down for so long. I stood up against police brutality.

So when we talk about the idea of evolution versus revolution, I think they both have a place. And I think that they both have to work simultaneously because there is a benefit to getting inside of something to find out how it works so that you can be informed enough to fix it. If I don't know what I'm about to walk into, that's what intel is for. You know, you need to know what you're fighting, and you need to know what needs to be changed and how that affects the next thing. So that is the part about evolution's side.

I think the revolution side, yeah, you know, we-- we need to go in, you know, just abolish this and tear this down and change that over. I-- I agree, we need that. But I have a little pushback because I came from at least one place that happened for over 400 days when we stood up toe to toe with police, tear gas, all different kinds of pepper spray, rubber bullets, real bullets, dogs, harassment, intimidation, arrest, being brutalized over and over and over again.

And people that I would have thought would have shown up for us, we were looking for that revolution. But all that we often found oftentimes was a bunch of black women that was just from the neighborhood that was locked arm in arm trying to make this thing happen. We had different-- different groups of people from different walks of life, true enough. But what we needed at that time was that mentality.

You know, and even though the mentality was there, for some reason, it didn't show up for us. And I'm not knocking those people that didn't. I just don't understand what the disconnect was because we were out there fighting for our lives. And so now we've continued to organize and to fight. So I don't think that we need to throw evolution away for a revolution. That's why I say they need to work together because there are people that even in the revolution still aren't going to be as down as you are.

There are different levels to being radical, and people got to understand that. I've seen it happen. I've seen some of the most radical folks, when the police show up with the batons and they start doing this, go back. But then you have people like me and other people that I rock with, when the police start doing this with the batons, I got video evidence. What do we do? We go in. So there is a difference. So you got to know who you're playing with. You got to know who's on your team.

Well, I took a picture with a beautiful painting of Shirley Chisholm that's hanging up in the Capitol building. Actually, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, I was visiting with her one day, and she said, I got to show you something. You know, I know you're going to like it. And so she took me-- I didn't-- I didn't even know it was there. She took me to that painting, and she was like, because you're the first like I am.

And so, you know, I took a picture. So Shirley Chisholm, you can hardly see it in the painting, but she's holding up the number 1. And so I did the same thing up under her and held up the number 1. It means everything to me because, you know, she blazed a trail that, you know, that was necessary, that allowed for me to be able to be in this position.

And I will forever-- you know, Ayanna Pressley is in her office. She actually has her old office. But it means everything to me to know that that is someone that-- that did this, and they hung with it and they stayed. They didn't just tough out Congress, they toughed out Congress as a black woman, as the very first. So if she can do that, I can do-- do whatever comes my way.