POLITICS

Cori Bush Makes History Being Elected As Missouri's First Black Congresswoman

"This is our moment," the representative-elect said in her victory speech.

Cori Bush made history Tuesday night. She won Missouri’s 1st Congressional District seat, making her the first Black woman elected to represent the state in Congress. 

The progressive congresswoman-elect was expected to win the general election in the overwhelmingly Democratic district after she unseated Rep. William Lacy Clay in a stunning primary upset in August. She comfortably defeated her Republican opponent, Anthony Rogers, on Tuesday.

Bush ― a Ferguson activist, nurse and ordained minister ― celebrated her historic win by posting a photo on Twitter of herself standing in front of a portrait of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress. 

 “The First,” Bush captioned the post.

During her victory speech on Tuesday night, Bush addressed the St. Louis community and said, “This is our moment.” 

“St. Louis, my city ... my home ... my community, we have been surviving and grinding ... just scraping by for so long, and now this is our moment to finally, finally start living,” she said.

“As the first Black woman, and also the first nurse and single mother to have the honor to represent Missouri in the United States Congress, let me say this ... to the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers ... this is our moment,” she later said. 

Bush then discussed the Ferguson uprisings and the organizing that took place in the streets of the St. Louis area in 2014, after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Black teenager Michael Brown

“In the tradition of every one of our ancestors who fought for a better world, we organized for Michael Brown Jr.,” Bush said Tuesday. “We organized for more than 400 days, side-by-side, locked arm-in-arm ... St. Louis strong.” 

Bush was notably on the frontlines of the Ferguson protests against police violence serving both in a medical capacity as a nurse and as a demonstrator. 

Kayla Reed, activist and executive director of racial justice organization Action St. Louis, told HuffPost in August that one of her first memories of Bush was in 2014 seeing her protest in the streets wearing scrubs.

“If someone was, like, ‘Who is a Ferguson protester?’ Cori Bush’s name is on that list,” Reed said. 

Missouri state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge (D), a Ferguson activist, likened Bush to the late civil rights icon John Lewis: “Somebody who understands the need of protests, the need of civil disobedience, and will not ever talk down to a movement or say they need to strategize different,” he said. 

Bush, who was a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016, previously ran against Clay for a House seat in 2018. She lost in the primary race by just under 20 percentage points. Her journey running for office two years ago was notably documented in the award-winning documentary, “Knock Down the House.”

On Tuesday, Bush posted a Twitter thread highlighting the significance of her historic win and the organizing that took place after Brown’s death. 

“Mike Brown was murdered 2,278 days ago,” she wrote. “We took to the streets for more than 400 days in protest. Today, we take this fight for Black Lives from the streets of Ferguson to the halls of Congress. We will get justice.”

Bush also wrote in another tweet that she intends to be the champion for working-class people and to represent for nurses who have, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, “risked their lives to save others.”

“I am the first nurse going to Congress from Missouri ― in the middle of a pandemic,” she wrote.

“Working class people need representatives who look like them and who have experienced their struggles. I am that champion,” she added.