By Rep. Ayanna Pressley as told to Erika Alexander
In 2018, Ayanna Pressley made history and became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. With her arrival to Washington, D.C., she joined the largest, diverse wave of legislators in Congress’ history. Pressley’s charisma and modern style was further displayed when she became part of the outlier team of four freshmen congresswomen self-dubbed “The Squad.” We asked Pressley about her thoughts on another superstar in the House, California’s 43rd District Rep. Maxine Waters.
Erika Alexander: Maxine Waters is my congresswoman. I live in her district in Los Angeles, and I admire her work and tenacity. As a freshman in Congress, how has she inspired you?
Ayanna Pressley: Well, first let me just say of course I’ve derived inspiration from her, and she’s also been a source of strength and great pride. But I think Maxine Waters is all of our congresswoman. Her influence has no boundaries. She is unapologetically in pursuit of deliberation and the upliftment and advancement of all people but unapologetically, especially Black folks.
So I felt mentored by her example before I ever became a member of Congress, and now I have the honor of serving on the Financial Services Committee under her leadership, which is historic in and of itself. This Black woman is the chair of the Financial Services Committee, an incredibly powerful committee. And to have her at the helm of this committee, with all of the important issues under its jurisdiction — from housing to addressing economic injustices like red lining, addressing the crisis of student loan debt, addressing credit invisibility, to the impact of underbanking in our community.