U.S. representative Cori Bush is Missouri’s first Black congresswoman. Webster student Leatrice McNeal felt her election is an inspiration to the people Bush represents.
Leatrice McNeal expressed hope upon being asked about Cori Bush’s induction as the U.S. representative for Missouri’s first congressional district.
“People will finally start listening to Black women,” McNeal said.
The district elected Bush in 2020 after her historic primary win against 10 term incumbent Lacy Clay. Bush was sworn in this year on Jan. 3, making history as Missouri’s first Black congresswoman. She’s already begun making waves, filing a resolution to expel Republican insurrection supporters and actively calling out other members of Congress on social media.
McNeal, president of Webster’s Society of Women of Color, understands the importance of Bush’s election and swearing in.
“I know how hard it is being a Black woman in a predominately white space,” McNeal said. “It is not easy to get to the top when so many people are pulling you down.”
Bush’s success is an inspiration–bringing both hope and confidence to those she represents.
“The media tells Black girls, especially darker skinned girls, that before we see the light, we must be in the dark; that before we see change, we must suffer in silence; that before pleasure, we must experience pain,” McNeal said. “Now, with Bush in office, little Black girls can see that they don’t have to wait for the world to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. Now, they can demand it.”
But Bush isn’t just an inspiration for Black women. She also proves success is possible for smaller campaigns and the importance of local political movements. As an activist heavily involved in protests in both Ferguson and St. Louis, Bush is considered a voice of the people. Knowing what it’s like to be working on the ground gives her the understanding of the people many politicians can only claim to have.
“[Bush’s] campaign was historic because it basically sent out a message to all the incumbents that no matter your position, what people want the most is for [representatives] to work on their behalf,” Bush campaign volunteer and local activist Blain McVey said.
Being part of “the Squad,” the left-wing group of Democrats from the U.S. House, her election also brings power to the growing Progressive movement across the U.S.
“I’m looking forward to a point in which they feel they’re strong enough to kind of hold the Democratic Party hostage and say, ‘Look if you want us to vote for your thing, you need to vote for our thing,’” McVey said.
With Bush now in office, St. Louis has a new flame lit in those who may have not felt represented before.
“Bush is representative of all the little St. Louis Black girls who have a vision and determination to succeed,” McNeal said. “I feel like she will listen to what everyone, including the disenfranchised, will have to say. Bush will not [just] focus on what makes the wealthy, power-hungry, white people happy.”
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Alexandria Darmody (she/they) is the news editor for the Journal, and a senior journalism major and FTVP minor. She enjoys digital art, photography and reading nonfiction stories. In her free time, she makes collages from old magazines and collects stickers to decorate surfaces. She's interested in the business side of journalism, and she's an avid viewer of Succession.