I am running for Congress because we desperately need inclusive, transformative leadership at this pivotal moment. The 7th Congressional District is the most diverse district in Massachusetts, and is one of the most unequal in the country. The people of this district deserve a representative who will enlist them as partners in the development, visioning, and governing of their communities. Activism is no longer an option, but is the expectation of our generation.

Equity Agenda

When I was a young girl, my mother Sandra – the person most responsible for making me who I am today – made tremendous sacrifices to send me to a good school near Lincoln Park on Chicago’s North Side. It was my first real experience outside of the neighborhood in which I was born and raised, and I learned quickly that my daily life was very different from that of my classmates. Their neighborhoods had banks. We had check cashers. They had supermarkets. We had corner stores.[1] It opened my eyes to the fact that communities separated by mere miles can, in many ways, be worlds apart.

Today, when you board the MBTA’s number 1 bus in Cambridge, it’s less than three miles to Dudley Station in Roxbury, but by the time you’ve made the 30-minute trip, the median household income in the neighborhoods around you have dropped by nearly $50,000 a year.[2]/[3] As the bus rolls through Back Bay, the average person around you might expect to live until he or she is 92 years old, but when it arrives in Roxbury, the average life expectancy has fallen by as much as 30 years.[4] A student riding the bus home to Dudley is, on average, nearly 20 percent less likely to graduate from high school in four years than a peer living just across the Charles.[5]

These types of disparities exist across the 7th District, and they are not naturally occurring; they are the legacy of decades of policies that have hardened systemic racism, increased income inequality, and advantaged the affluent. We have seen moments of progress, but we are now, once again, confronted by an administration in Washington that is working to roll back the clock – implementing cruel, draconian policies that strip away critical rights and sow further division in our communities.

The job description of our representatives in Congress has changed. Now, more than ever, we need representatives who will be proactive partners with our communities, and who will not shy away from difficult political fights. My career has been defined by tackling the issues that are important to the communities I represent, even when they are not popular or easy. That is part of my mother’s legacy, making sure that I understood not just my rights, but my responsibilities – my responsibility to speak up and lead, especially for those who have heard their own voices silenced too often before. Those closest to the pain should be closest to the power – that is the mantle I will carry with me to Congress.

Just as man-made policy has led us to the inequity we see today, so too can intentional, empathetic policy help solve some of our most pressing challenges. Over the next several weeks, I will be rolling out a series of policy proposals that were created in collaboration with community, and which I believe can meaningfully address the challenges we face across the 7th District. These policies will focus on:

  • Public Health
  • Economic Development
  • The Environment
  • Immigration
  • Issues Disproportionately Impacting Women and Girls
  • Transportation
  • Violence and Trauma
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Criminal Justice

I look forward to continuing to engage with the residents and activists in the 7th District, just as I have for the past decade as a Boston City Councilor. Together, we can ensure that this moment of hatred and division in Washington is a catalyst for the greatest progressive movement of our generation.

[1] “Out front: Ayanna Pressley ready to make history,” Bay State Banner, 10/21/2009
[2] Data from U.S. Census
[3] Data from areavibes
[4]Health and the City,” Boston University School of Public Health, 3/8/2015
[5] Data from Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education