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'Assuming Our Rightful Place': Pressley Hails Political Wins By Black Women At MLK Breakfast02:31
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Ayanna Pressley waves to the audience during a swearing-in ceremony of the Congressional Black Caucus. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Ayanna Pressley waves to the audience during a swearing-in ceremony of the Congressional Black Caucus. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Boston marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the city's 49th annual breakfast celebration. And for the first time, the event featured a black Boston Police commissioner and a black congresswoman from Massachusetts.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley got a rockstar's reception from the crowd of 1,000-plus at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. She paid tribute to MLK and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

Pressley cast her own election as evidence that women of color are moving beyond supporting roles.

"Black women, we are reclaiming our time," she said. "We are shaking the table in the corridors of power at the policy and decision-making tables. Assuming our rightful place as the preservers of democracy, as the truth tellers and the justice seekers. So, yes, thank you, Martin. And thank you, Coretta."

Pressley was just one example of representation highlighted by William Gross in his remarks. The 42nd Boston Police commissioner quipped that he shares that number with another pioneer: Jackie Robinson.

"Look at the face of Boston today. Some haters would be rolling in their graves right now."

William Gross, Boston Police Commissioner

Gross noted that the 13-member Boston City Council includes six women of color.

"Look at the face of Boston today," he said. "Some haters would be rolling in their graves right now."

Sen. Ed Markey said that if King were alive today, he would be proud to see his activism translate into electoral victories.

"Even at 90," Markey said, "you know that Dr. King would have stood up and cheered for all of our newly-elected black leaders, including the indomitable Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley."

Markey followed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who repeated a message about racial and economic inequality that is becoming a hallmark of her campaigning as she explores a possible presidential run: "The path to economic security is steep and rocky for millions of working people in America," Warren said. "And it is steeper and rockier for black and brown Americans."

King Boston founder Paul English said in remarks that his committee is roughly halfway to raising $12 million for a memorial to the Kings on Boston Common. The Boston Foundation said Monday that it will donate $500,000; Boston University, where MLK studied theology, said it will give $250,000.

This segment aired on January 21, 2019.

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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