Ilhan Omar

Victory Speech – Nov. 6, 2018

Ilhan Omar
November 06, 2018— Minneapolis, Minnesota
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As-Salaam-Alaikum. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.

Thank you all for being here with us. Thank you for welcoming us to song-and-dance. What an amazing journey this has been.

I am here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name – the first woman of color to represent our state in Congress, the first woman to wear a hijab to represent us in Congress, the first refugee ever elected to Congress, and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, a title I share with my beautiful sister from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib.

But you all know I did not run to be a first. I ran because I came to this country. I heard of its promises. And when I looked around this district to see many who have never known the bounty of the American promise, the promise of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This country is supposed to be the land where people have the tools necessary to lead a life that is prosperous.

Yet indigenous people, promised homes, are living in tents like refugees in their own land. Millennials, promised the American Dream if they study hard, enough only to find that dream deferred by the harsh realities of our economy. Immigrants, promised the land of opportunity, are too often met with bigotry and hate.

I could not stand by on the sidelines and watch those promises go kept. My grandfather taught me that when you see unjustice, you fight back. You do not give in to sorrow. You do not give in to sadness. You organize and you build with people.

I would not be here tonight without my people. My family. My father, who’s probably lost somewhere in this sea. My children – Isra, Adnan and Ilwad. And my husband – my best friend, my rock – Ahmed.

And my other family – my campaign team. Our staff, the interns, the volunteers who have given endlessly of themselves and their time these past few months.

And I wouldn't be here without you, the people of the fifth congressional district, who in electing me have said that you will fight for our bold progressive vision, for health care for all, for working families to ensure that they are paid a living wage and have access to save and sick time, thanks in large part to labor unions who have our backs.

We will fight for a world-class education, tuition-free college and finally free students from the shackles of debt. We will fight to abolish ICE, keep families together, protect refugees, protect women's right to choose and fight against climate change.

You as Minnesotans are the North Star that guides our nation. You don't back down. You become your own promise.

When the call came for me to run for Congress, I answered because the time demanded it. A time when racism and white supremacy threatens our very existence, when my status as an immigrant black Muslim woman means that the current administration does not see me as an American.

You know I will not bow down. You know I will not back down to fear and hate. I will stand strong with you, and as we fight to protect our immigrant families, our neighbors, our children, our planet, our communities, I promise to always have your back.

So our state is very cold but the people have warm hearts. This state has always made me feel like I was part of a family, because here in Minnesota we don't only welcome immigrants, we send them to Washington.

Our beautiful journey does not end tonight. We must stand side-by-side and fight for our democracy. We must fight for our rights and the freedoms we value. It is up to us to fulfill the promise of America. We must do the work to create the America we believe, in the America we deserve. We are we've been waiting for.

Thank you so much for being here and now let's get to the business of dancing and celebrating. We’re going to Washington!