By Racine Tucker-Hamilton, VP of Communications
Repealing the Hyde amendment, Medicare for all, voter suppression, and housing were just a few of the hot topics discussed at the first-ever women of color congressional town hall, “Women of Color Lead the Way: Building Power on the Ground and in Congress” on Oct. 24.
Dozens of people, mainly women snapped, clapped, and cheered as Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA), Barbara Lee (CA), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Deb Haaland (AZ) responded to audience questions about issues impacting women, transgender people, and members of the LGBTQ community.
The event was hosted by the Progressive Caucus Action Fund and She the People. It was moderated by She the People’s Aimee Allison and journalist Versha Sharma.
The audience was reminded of the power of women at the polls. “We unite and we lead all the way to November,” said Allison.
A woman shared her heartfelt story of having an abortion. She felt judged and ashamed. Rep. Lee told her that at age 15, before Roe v. Wade was passed, she had an unsafe abortion. She went on to say that she will fight for abortion rights and will continue to work to repeal the Hyde amendment, which prevents women from using federal funds for abortions. “We are going to keep fighting, we will get the law of the land on our side. We will not let Roe v. Wade be overturned, and we will get Reproductive Justice for all women.”
An audience member asked if Medicare For All will really be for all. How will we fight against medical bias against women of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people? “Medicare for all means everyone is in and no one is out,” responded Rep. Jayapal.
A trans immigrant asked the group what they were going to do to protect the rights of trans people of color and ensure that they have access to housing, jobs, healthcare, etc. “I’m a very proud mother of a nonbinary kid. We will pass the equality act and get protections for LGBTQ folks. We need to get all of the rights restored for LGBTQ people that were rolled back by Trump,” said Jayapal.
Rep. Pressley urged the group to exercise their “Equitable Outrage” which she described as holding space for everybody to experience righteous rage and not competing for the ‘Most Oppressed’ title. She also asked the audience to take a moment of silence in remembrance of Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) who died on Oct. 18. She described him as a justice warrior who championed the rights of women of color.