In 2018, when Ayanna Soyini Pressley (1974– ), who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Chicago, Illinois, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusett's 7th Congressional District, she became the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her involvement in public service and politics began in 7th grade, when she was elected class president, a position she won every year until her graduation from the Francis W. Parker School, where she was commencement speaker. She attended Boston University, but left before completion of her degree to help support her mother, Sandra Pressley, a single mother and tenants' rights organizer who served as a living example of activism and civic engagement for Ayanna. Always an activist in the community, Ayanna worked for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and Senator John Kerry, before launching and winning an at-large bid in 2009 for a seat on Boston City Council, where she was the first woman of color elected to the Council in its 100-year history and where for eight years she worked to combat inequities and disparities in her community. Her awards are many: Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership (Class of 2012); one of Ten Outstanding Young Leaders, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce (2014); Leadership Award, Victim Rights Law Center (2014); Rising Star Award, EMILY's List (2015); one of 50 Most Powerful People, Boston Magazine (2015); one of 14 Young Democrats to Watch, the New York Times (2016). As a congresswoman, she has become well known on the national stage for her social activism and advocacy, but also for her policymaking that addresses intersectionality and benefits for all Americans.
In July 2019, leaders and people from around the United States and the world came to the congresswoman's defense after President Donald Trump tweeted remarks about her and three other congresswomen of color (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan), saying they should go back and help the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" and "you can't leave fast enough." Of the four Congresswomen, all are U.S. citizens and three were born in the United States. In a responding tweet, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California said, "[Trump's] plan to "Make America Great Again" has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power." Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted that Trump's comment was "vile" and a "racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen. This *is* their country.... they should be treated with respect." Ayanna responded that the president's tweets were "...simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration."