Missouri's First Black Congresswoman: GOP Colleagues Called Me 'Breonna Taylor'

On her first day of work, Rep.-elect Cori Bush wore a mask with Breonna Taylor's name on it —only to have several Republican colleagues mistake her for Taylor.

Democratic Rep.-elect Cori Bush made history last week by becoming Missouri’s first Black congresswoman. But on her first day of work, GOP colleagues mistakenly called her “Breonna” because she wore a face mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it in memory of the Black woman killed by police in her own apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bush has spoken about the challenges of being a woman of color on the job and tweeted Friday that “it hurts” to encounter people who appear not to know about Taylor. But, she added, “they’ll come to know her name [and] story because of my presence.”

Bush is Breonna Taylor only in the sense that she “could be a Black woman murdered in [her] bed tonight,” she told reporters.

“This Breonna Taylor was murdered in her bed at night, and she does not have justice,” Bush said, pointing to the name on her mask.

She added: “We have to stretch ourselves and pay attention to what’s happening in other parts of the country. ... People have protested in the streets with this name, and it just saddens me that people in leadership — people that want to be in leadership — don’t know the struggles that are happening to Black people in this country. And it was hurtful, absolutely hurtful. I didn’t hear it once. I didn’t hear it twice. I heard it several times.”

Bush is a St. Louis native, Ferguson activist and former nurse who unseated Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay in August and defeated Republican Anthony Rogers on Nov. 3.

She previously tweeted that she was the first nurse attending Congress from Missouri in the middle of a pandemic and intended to champion working class people who “need representatives who look like them and who have experienced their struggles.”

CORRECTION: This article previously stated that Rep. William Lacy Clay is a Republican. He is a Democrat.