Eight years ago, not a single woman of color had served on the Boston City Council. In fact, eight years ago, there was only one woman on the Council. One.
In 2008, Ayanna Pressley entered the Boston political scene and declared her candidacy for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council. She spoke passionately about her service to marginalized communities, her experience with sexual abuse, and her mother’s activism that inspired her to run. Ayanna’s campaign was extraordinary because it centered on her desire to help women and girls and because she was the only woman running in a field of 15 candidates.
That year, she became the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council in its 107 years. Since then, she has spent her tenure doing exactly what she promised—championing women and girls. And voters were solidly behind her advocacy focus, as evidence by her overwhelming electoral successes in each subsequent election.
Voters weren’t the only ones to notice. In fact, Ayanna’s unwavering commitment to women’s health and rights earned her one of the first municipal endorsements made in the history of our organization—and she topped the ticket in 2011, 2013, and 2015.
Since then, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi-George have won at-large seats, and Michelle became the first woman of color elected President of the Boston City Council. Andrea Campbell was then elected, becoming the first woman to represent Boston’s District 4. But the women of Boston weren’t done yet.
The 2017 municipal elections in Boston marked a historic feat—six women of color won spots on the Boston City Council, just one short of a majority. All of these women earned PPAF’s endorsement, and all have incredible records of fighting for safe and healthy communities.
This year, we are particularly proud to have played a role in adding two new women to the team—Lydia Edwards and Kim Janey.
Both Lydia and Kim have spent their careers working on the complex issues facing their neighborhoods and understand the importance of accessible and affordable health care in their districts. They will be great champions of reproductive rights, comprehensive sex education, and equality as city councilors.
Women candidates of color face many challenges, and PPAF believed it was critical to our mission to hit the streets for these strong reproductive health champions. This year, PPAF knocked over 10,000 doors, completed over 100 volunteer shifts, and made nearly 10,000 phone calls in order to elect Lydia, Kim, and many other candidates. And we have every intention of continuing to endorse strong voices for reproductive rights and elect more local champions.
To Ayanna, Michelle, Annissa, Andrea, Kim, and Lydia — PPAF congratulates you on your historic elections, we thank you for your incredible advocacy so far, and we look forward to working alongside you and our other local champions to make Boston healthier and safer for all.
To our readers — share this blog with your networks to spread the news about this extraordinary moment in Boston’s history and encourage your friends to get involved to elect local champions of sexual and reproductive health.