Black Women Leaders Organized Rally in Support of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

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U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) speaks at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2019 (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein).

Activists led by Angela Davis, historian and professor Barbara Ransby, and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) rallied on April 30 in support of Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has faced an onslaught of threats and criticism for being an outspoken, progressive Democrat.

The event, called Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar, was created to call out the escalating attacks against the freshman Democrat. Omar, one of two Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018, has been accused of being anti-Semitic and of minimizing the 9/11 attacks. She has faced a number of death threats, as well as attacks from President Donald Trump.

Ransby, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and adviser to the Movement for Black Lives, told Democracy Now! that about 100 Black women were invited to Capitol Hill to show their support for Omar. The professor noted they did not invite more people because they were being mindful of their carbon footprint, but invited people from different organizations and faiths to show their support.

“Black women from all over the country are coming to say we stand with Ilhan and that other women stand with us,” Ransby told Democracy Now!. “So we’re telling the Republicans to back off. We’re also telling the Democrats to step up and have a much more vigorous defense of her.”  

Davis, an activist and Civil Rights icon, told Democracy Now! that it was extremely important to show the world that many people, Black women and people in general, are supporting Omar. “She is targeted because she is an immigrant, because she is Muslim, because she is a courageous, bold Black woman who speaks out in defense of Palestinians,” Davis said.

Freshmen congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) also attended the event. “I am changing the things I can no longer accept, and from R. Kelly to Donald Trump, what we can no longer accept is the silencing of Black women,” Pressley told the crowd. “We are reclaiming our rightful place.”

Pressley later tweeted that people can no longer accept “a man who emboldens white supremacy & endangers the life of a member of congress.”

In her interview with Democracy Now!, Ransby noted that the president has a history of belittling and degrading women, particularly Black women. Ransby noted that Trump has not only attacked other members of Congress, including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), but also targeted former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman, who he called a “dog.”

Several people have been arrested after allegedly threatening to kill Omar. A Florida man was arrested after making threatening phone calls to Reps. Tlaib, Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in which he referred to Omar as a member of the Taliban. John Kless, 49, of Broward County, also said Omar was “lucky” she was just getting death threats, The Hill reported.

An Addison, New York man was also arrested after he threatened to assault and murder Omar. Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., 55,  was arrested April 5 after calling Omar’s Washington, DC office and threatening to “put a bullet in her [expletive] skull” because of her Muslim faith.

Hours after the self-described Trump supporter was arrested and charged, the president targeted Omar in a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual convention.

 


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.

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