As a nurse, pastor, single mom, and Black Lives Matter Ferguson activist, Cori Bush has been on the frontlines for years, which also means she’s not Missouri’s average representative. Yet those are the attributes that led Bush to win her primary race last night (August 4), 48.6 percent to 45.5 percent, against the 20-year incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO.), CNN reported today (August 5). Bush had also run against Clay in 2018 but lost.
“They counted us off. They called me, you know, I’m just the protestor. I’m just the activist with no name, no real title and money,” Bush said at the start of her acceptance speech. “That’s all they said I was, but St. Louis showed up today.” If Bush is elected in November, it’ll be the first time her state will send a Black woman to Congress.
Bush’s political trajectory started six years ago when 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson police on August 9, 2014. (No charges will be brought against the former officer who shot and killed him, the Washington Post reported on July 30.) “I was maced and beaten by those same police officers in those same streets,” Bush said during her speech. “Six months from now as the first Black Congresswoman in the entire history of the state of Missouri, I will be holding them accountable.”
Bush’s victory is a major one for freedom fighters, especially as the St. Louis seat she’s going for has been held by Clay and his father only since 1969. When she ran two years ago, she was the first candidate backed by the progressive caucus Justice Democrats, according to CNN. Her platform included issues such as LGBTQ+ equality, immigration, prison and criminal justice reform, as well as a Green New Deal and education for everyone. For this race, Bush had the backing of grassroots organizations and progressive politicians alike, from the Sunrise Movement to Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) who took down his own incumbent in last June’s primary.
Buoyed by Bush’s win, Bowman tweeted that he was “looking forward to making good trouble with you in DC next year.”
Good trouble, as the beloved Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) said on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 1 shortly before his passing, appears to be what Bush has in mind considering the timing of her primary win.
“Let me just say, it is historic that this year, of all years, we’re sending a Black, working-class, single mother who’s been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson,” Bush said to her cheering supporters, “all the way to the halls of Congress.”