Why Democratic Lawmakers Wore Black to the State of the Union
Kente cloths, “Time’s Up” pins, and head-to-toe black — all sent powerful messages.
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.
Democratic Congresswomen showed up to the #SOTU tonight in black, wearing #TIMESUP and RECY (for Recy Taylor) pins. The man giving the State of the Union has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by 15+ women. pic.twitter.com/XHuQd9Y9p4— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) January 31, 2018
“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.”
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.
My colleagues and I in the @HouseDemWomen are calling on our fellow MoCs - women & men, Democrats & Republicans - to wear black to this year's #SOTU in solidarity w/survivors of sexual harassment/violence in Hollywood, politics, the military, academia, etc. #TIMESUP#MeToo— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) January 10, 2018
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.
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.
#TimesUp at #SOTU tonight. It is inspiring to see so many members coming together to honor the memory of Recy Taylor. The #MeToo movement cannot neglect to highlight the voices of the marginalized women who have spoken out and been ignored. pic.twitter.com/4fZvd1qH0u— Bonnie WatsonColeman (@RepBonnie) January 30, 2018
“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.
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