Ayanna Pressley

Victory Speech – Nov. 6, 2018

Ayanna Pressley
November 06, 2018— Boston, Massachusetts
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Thank you! I love you back. I love you back. Alright now. Alright, y'all. Change can't wait and neither can this speech. Alright.

Wow, it is incredible to be with all of you this evening. You are an awesome sight to behold. I am grateful beyond words to God; to my loving family; to my dedicated A Team; to the volunteers and the broad and diverse coalition of voters, disruptors, believers, resisters, persisters, activists and agitators that brought us to this very moment.

And I am so honored and humbled to share both the ballot and the stage with the many visionary, bold women who have raised their hand to run for public office.

Now listen – I know for a fact none of us ran to make history. We ran to make change. However, the historical significance of this evening is not lost on me. The significance of history is not lost on me, including my personal one.

Tonight I'm reminded of my mother, my shero, the woman who gave me my roots and my wings. You see, Sandy Pressley was a super voter. She voted in every election and no matter how small we felt at times in community and society at large, my mother made sure I knew that when we walked into that voting booth and we pulled that curtain, that we were powerful.

Tonight in Massachusetts and across the country, we are standing in our power, the same power my mother told me we had. The same power that compelled me to raise my hand and to not ask permission to lead.

You see, when a woman of color talks about running for higher office or public office at all, folks don't just talk about a glass ceiling. Yes, we face many of the same trials our sisters and women of all colors face when answering the call to serve. But the well-intended conversations that occur when a woman of color seeks public office take on a texture all their own.

Is your appeal broad enough? Are you playing identity politics? Can you really inspire millennials and the faith-based community? Can a congresswoman wear her hair in braids, rock a black leather jacket – wait a minute – and a bold red lip?

When it comes to women of color candidates, folks don't just talk about a glass ceiling. What they describe is a concrete one. But you know what breaks through concrete? Seismic shifts. Drastic change.

When those tectonic plates of revolution shift below our feet, when our communities deserve and these times require bold vision, activist leadership, a movement builds and the citizen activist rises and they are a force to be reckoned with.

Stronger than any one person or any institution, it builds up from the ground beneath our feet and this groundswell, this shift, can break through concrete.

Today, with the women that I have the honor of sharing this ballot with and this stage – today we broke that concrete wide open.

And yet I have no intentions of delivering a victory speech. What I'm offering is a vision, one where together we can break cycles of poverty, break and rebuild a criminal legal system that actually delivers justice. One where we can break through and affirm the rights of our transgender friends and neighbors. One where we can break through and create an economy where one job is enough. One where we can break through and create a commonwealth and a country where the next generation’s dreams aren’t sabotaged by crippling student debt. Where we can break through and keep our immigrant families safe and together. One where we can break through and address the public health epidemic and crisis that is gun violence and make the investment in the trauma response and recovery efforts to support those communities disproportionately impacted.

I have a vision to break through. You see, we’ve spent months on the campaign trail, working to give folks a reason to believe, something to vote for. We have met people where they are in community, at coffee shops, and bodegas, in church basements and on front porches. Together we have shared our fears and our hopes. And although we have talked about the current occupant in the White House, coming at us like a locomotive to roll back every civil right protection and freedom we have fought for and earned, and we have talked about the threats to our families, our safety, our very autonomy over our bodies, and the life-saving health care we need.

And together we have also dreamed of what is possible. We have been audacious enough to define this moment in time. We have affirmed that while this could go down as the darkest time in our history, we won’t let it be. And instead, we will be defined by our hopes, not our fears.

We have been bold. We have been bold in our vision and clear in our convictions, lifting up and affirming what we are for – equity, justice, equality.

So I didn’t come here to deliver a victory speech here tonight, only one of vision. And when we realize equity, justice and equality, these rights for everyone, then and only then will I deliver a victory speech.

Alright, now listen. Now know this – we made history this evening. But we aren’t just making history for the sake of making it. We aren't just defeating hate out of necessity. What we are issuing here and now is a mandate for hope.

Tonight is just the beginning. Don't allow anyone to tell you that as a Democratic Party we have to choose. Don't allow anyone to tell you that we have to moderate our ambitions or compromise our values, no matter how sobering the landscape.

We are the party of workers’ rights and immigrants’ rights and women's rights and people of color, and we are the party of survivors’ rights.

And for all those reasons we don't have to wait our turn. We don't have to wait for change. Tonight we pick up the mantel. We continue to work, working to restore your hope, to restore your trust, to redeem your relationship with government.

I still believe in the power of us, and change is on the way.