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Pressley says she’ll prioritize issues of economic inequality

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Pressley says she’ll prioritize issues of economic inequality
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is re-sworn into office by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey at a community ceremony held at Roxbury Community College on January 12. PHOTO: DON WEST

Standing before a capacity crowd in the Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center Saturday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley pledged to battle economic inequality as she participated in a symbolic swearing-in ceremony, a week after she officially took the oath of office in D.C.

After Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey administered the oath, Pressley told the audience she would not celebrate victory until we have realized “equity, equality and justice.”

“We made our fair share of history together,” she said. “But I was not sent to Congress to just make history. You sent me there to make meaningful, lasting change. Progress on behalf of the residents of the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District.”

Speaking to reporters after her address, Pressley said she is seeking a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.

“The 7th Congressional District is the most diverse and unequal district in our delegation,” she said. “Arguably one of the most unequal in the country. From Cambridge to Roxbury — a mere three-mile radius — life expectancy drops by 30 years, the median household income by $50,000. I want to do something about that.”

Pressley also said she is interested in working on issues under the purview of the Education and Labor committee to help alleviate inequality.

“I want to keep [U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Secretary] Ben Carson in my sightline,” she said. “The federal government has all but abandoned public housing.”

If she receives the committee assignments she is seeking, Pressley says she will work on issues including lack of access to bank services, the effects of historic redlining and consumer protection.

“Unprecedented times require unprecedented legislating,” she said. “And so my opportunity to address these inequities and disparities is not only about the bills that I’ll co-sponsor and the votes that I will cast, but it’s about the legislation that I will write.”

Pressley’s ceremony brought out elected officials including U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Mayor Martin Walsh, her former Boston City Council colleagues and state representatives.

Spectators lined up outside the Media Arts Center before the doors were set to open at 1:30 Saturday and quickly filled the 425-seat auditorium. An overflow crowd watched the proceedings from a nearby venue.

In addition to taking the oath of office, Pressley called on audience members to take their own oath, with pledges to become more active citizens.

“I will do my best every day to build a more equitable and just community for us all,” read one line in the pledge.

Pressley told reporters the community event was an important acknowledgement of the work community members put into her campaign.

“This is a collective and shared victory,” she said. “But also, the work of change is collective and cooperative work. That’s why I wanted to come here and have this community swearing in.”

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