November 24, 2020

Rep. Elect Cori Bush Tweets About Wearing A Breonna Taylor Mask

4 min read

house of representatives begins orientation for newly elected members

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It’s eight months to the day since police shot and killed Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, sparking worldwide calls for justice and police reform. Following her death, thousands marched and pled with the public to “Say Her Name.” But, according to Missouri Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, some Republican lawmakers still don’t know who Taylor is.

Bush, who was elected the state’s first Black representative in Congress last month, commemorated her first day in the position on Friday with a Twitter photo of herself wearing a mask that reads “Breonna Taylor” with the caption: “Change does not come from this place unless we bring it here ourselves.”

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A few hours later, Bush tweeted that some Republican members of congress mistook her own name as Breonna. “It’s Day One, so I’m wearing my ‘Breonna Taylor’ mask,” she wrote. “A few of my Republican colleagues have called me Breonna, assuming that’s my name. It hurts. But I’m glad they’ll come to know her name & story because of my presence here. Breonna must be central to our work in Congress.”

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In a video obtained by The New York Times, Bush spoke about the incident and clarified that she was mistaken for the late E.M.T. “several times.”

“I am Breonna Taylor, as far as I could be a Black woman murdered in my bed tonight, you know? But I am not Breonna Taylor. This Breonna Taylor was murdered in her bed at night. She does not have justice—murdered by the police. We have to stretch ourselves and pay attention to what’s happening in other parts of the country. But this has been national news for a long time. People have protested in the streets with this name, and it just saddens me that people in leadership, people that want to be in leadership, don’t know the struggles that are happening to Black people in this country. And it’s just disheartening. And it was hurtful, absolutely hurtful. I didn’t hear it once, I didn’t hear it twice. I heard it several times. I’m being called, you know, Breonna Taylor today. But it’s OK because we’ll educate and we’ll make sure that people know who she is, what she stood for—that she was an award-winning E.M.T. in her community, that she’s someone who deserves justice right now.”

Prior to her landmark election to the 117th Congress, Bush was an influential Black Lives Matter activist. Inspired to become an organizer after the unjust police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, she challenged longtime incumbent Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri’s 1st congressional district in the 2018 midterms. Bush was defeated then, but won her U.S. House race on November 3, elected to represent the same district where she had been marching for Black lives.

In June, she penned an op-ed for ELLE.com about the vital role Black Lives Matter figures can play in political office:

“As Black folks, we have been fighting for our lives on a daily basis ever since we were forcibly brought to America. That’s violence against us. In St. Louis, we’ve been fighting for our lives against some of the worst segregation in the country. That’s violence. We’ve had to fight to survive under Trump’s presidency and through the COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated the Black community more than any other. That’s more violence. The economic and health disparities we face have existed for far too long, with the same people in power tasked with closing those gaps. Now, we the people have decided to lead, advocate, educate, and empower. It’s not just Ferguson anymore. The whole world is taking to the streets. For this. For George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For Tony McDade. For Mike Brown. For Nina Pop. For us.”

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