WASHINGTON — An activist who has led marches in Ferguson and St. Louis for the past several years made history Sunday in the nation's capital. Representative Cori Bush was sworn in as Missouri's first Black congresswoman.
"I have to perform for St. Louis, I have to bring home deliverables right now," said the Democrat via video call from her new Capitol office on her first official day in office.
Bush upset ten-term Representative William Lacy Clay Jr. in the Democratic primary. But, even as a freshmen representative, the former nurse, pastor, and protest leader told 5 On Your Side she is not intimidated by her new role.
"Not at all," said Bush who first gained a voice as an activist in Ferguson and St. Louis.
"We ran from rubber bullets and real bullets," she said of her experiences in Ferguson. "St. Louis is not an easy place to live. So if they think this scares me they should have been with me these last few years, all the things that we've been through," said Bush.
"I slept in a car with two babies. If they think this scares me, they're wrong," she said with a chuckle.
Bush says her first priority is $2,000 "recurring" payments for COVID relief — an idea she believes is already gaining momentum among Democrats and some Republicans like Missouri Senator Josh Hawley.
"I'm that activist, so I know how to apply pressure. I know how to organize. I know how to pull in grassroots folks that can help get this thing done to be able to press on the colleagues to be able to make this thing happen," said Bush. "So as the freshmen that's one of the things I can do."
Rep. Bush said while the past few months since her upset win over Clay have been a "whirlwind" that was her time to rest. Now, she says, the work begins with "a sense of urgency."
"There's no time to waste," she said.
Bush is one of a record number of women who will serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, there will be 101 women serving in the House, including the four non-voting delegates who represent American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Another 25 women will serve in the Senate.
She was sworn in on Sunday afternoon in a ceremony that was toned down due to coronavirus concerns.
Bush took photos with her family and some of her fellow members of Congress.
Bush is likely to be the newest member of the group of progressive representatives commonly referred to as "The Squad". On Sunday, she and fellow freshman representative Jamaal Bowman posed for a photo with representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.