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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center seated, with other House members wearing black in support the metoo and timesup movement, ahead of tonight's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Jan. 30, 2018.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Girls & Women

Why Democratic Lawmakers Wore Black to the State of the Union

The president’s annual State of the Union Address is not an event typically known for bold fashion statements, but dozens of Democratic congresswomen yesterday changed that.

Taking their cue from Hollywood’s powerful “black out” at the Golden Globes Award ceremony earlier this month, the lawmakers wore black to show their support for the #MeToo movement against workplace sexual harassment.

“We are supporting the brave women in every industry and every corner of the country who are making their voices heard,” House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement. “We are at a watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment and discrimination, and we must continue to keep up the drumbeat of action for real change.”

Take Action: Let’s consider our own biases as we build a world where everyone sees equal #WeSeeEqual

California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier led Tuesday’s effort, calling on men and women from both sides of the aisle to wear black to the event to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment. 

The issue is one that hits home for Speier who came forward last year with her own story of being sexually assaulted by a senior aide earlier in her career, Time reported. Since then, Speier has been calling on Congress to amend its sexual harassment and assault policies and handling procedures.

“Right now a victim goes through 90 days of hell and, as one victim said to me, the process was almost worse than the harassment,” Speier told Time. “I want to transform the process to one that’s much more victim centered.”

Many of the women wore pins bearing the phrase “time’s up” in support of the Time’s Up initiative — “unified call for change from women in entertain for women everywhere” — started by several Hollywood women in response to the dozens of sexual assault and harassment allegations that have come to light since producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault scandal broke.

Read more: Over 300 Women in Entertainment Say ‘Time’s Up’ on Sexual Harassment

President Donald Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by 19 women, the Atlantic reported. Trump has denied all allegations.

Several male and female members of Congress also wore bright red pins emblazoned with the name Recy — a tribute to Recy Taylor, a black female farmer who was gang raped by six white men in 1944 on her way home from church in Abbeville, Alabama, the New York Times reported.

“I am also wearing a Recy Taylor pin...And this issue is personal to me,” California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee said. “My great-grandmother was a domestic worker who was raped by a white man...Recy Taylor’s painful story is, sadly, a familiar story to many African American women. In uplifting Recy Taylor’s story, we’re shedding light on a reality that has been ignored for too long. And this pin is also a commitment, from myself and many others, to ensure that more stories like Recy Taylor’s are heard and remembered.”

And these were not the only statements politicians made with their attire last night.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including women wearing all black, wore kente cloths — a traditional textile of Ghana’s Asante people — to “honor the countries POTUS proclaimed 's-holes' last week,” North Carolina Democratic Representative Alma Adams said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Read more: 15 Reasons African Countries Aren't 'Shitholes'

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