July 23, 2020

Congresswoman Lee Remarks on Accosting of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House Floor during a point of personal privilege for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, calling for an apology for the offensive remarks made against her by Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. Find Congresswoman Lee’s remarks and video link below:

“Thank you very much. First of all, I rise today not only to support Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but I rise in strong support of this privilege resolution.

“As an African American woman, first let me just say, I personally have experienced a lifetime of insults, racism and sexism and believe me, this did not stop after being elected to public office. It’s past time that this body understand that women of color are here to stay. Congresswoman AOC is here to stay.

“It is past time that this house recognize that women will not tolerate these personal attacks and insist that we be treated with respect due anyone in this house representing over 700,000 people. The impact of using this language against any woman dehumanizes women and girls and sends the message to other men that women are valued less than a human being.

“My mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, from Brooklyn, NY, was the first Black woman elected to Congress, and as a member of the late Congressman Ron Dellums’ staff, I spent many years on Capitol Hill and witnessed the personal attacks and curse words against her as a Black female member of Congress. But you know what, just like yourself, she would not tolerate such behavior and she had to fight oftentimes alone against such despicable language and behavior.

“Well, Congresswoman, we are here today with you, we are here supporting your right to speak out, to represent your constituents and to be who you are: a brave and bold member of Congress which we know you to be.

“Now, the gentleman from Florida, yes he must apologize to you, congresswoman, he must apologize though to all of the little girls who aspire to be who they are – to be who they are – without being called disgusting names and barriers to keep their voices silent.

“I close with reading just one verse of our beloved Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise."  I’m reminded of you today. She said, “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.”

“So yes, congresswoman, you have risen once again.”