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'We Have Been the Table Shakers': Rep. Ayanna Pressley Uplifts Black Women and Honors the Late Rep. John Lewis in Conversation at The Root Institute

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is “Black with a capital ‘B’ and a woman with a capital ‘W’” (as she profoundly said in a TEDx Talk). A light in these dark times, Rep. Pressley offers hope for those who may have lost faith in our country’s leaders. She moves through the world fearlessly, despite unrelenting forces of opposition—after all, this is what Black women have done throughout history.


Despite our fortitude and plenteous contributions to the world, the congresswoman says that Black women are described as “disruptors” rather than “innovators.”

“History will attempt to whitewash, to sanitize, to write out our [Black women’s] contributions. You cannot deny the fact that we have been the disruptors. We have been the table-shakers. We have been the truth-tellers.” Congresswoman Pressley continues, “And as the most reliably voting constituency, we have also been the preservers of democracy.”


Rep. Ayanna Pressley is her mother’s child, and had the honor of serving with Congressman John Lewis—to whom she is supremely grateful.

“Ayanna Pressley would not exist were it not for John Lewis,” Rep. Pressley tells The Root.

The freshman congresswoman says the greatest lesson that she’s learned from the late Civil Rights icon is vigilance. “We can never rest on our laurels. We must always be vigilant, and as Rep. Lewis told us every day, we must never give up.”

Check out the conversation with history-making Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, see above. This conversation will fill your cup.


For more conversations with the brightest and the Blackest, join us for The Root’s first-ever Root Institute. Be sure to subscribe here.

Afro-Cuban woman that was born and branded in New York. When León isn't actually creating cool videos, she's thinking of cool videos that she can create.