Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at a performing arts high school in the Bronx on Saturday to hear the first inaugural address of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly-elected liberal firebrand and youngest member of Congress.
Ten minutes before she took the stage, a group of young people inside Renaissance High School for Musical Theater and the Arts began chanting her initials — "A-O-C, A-O-C" — and clapping. When she took her seat, the entire audience gave her a standing ovation.
After a New York judge swore her in and local politicians provided her an introduction, Ocasio-Cortez launched into a formal address to establish the agenda that would drive her congressional work for the next two years, an unusual move for a freshman member of Congress.
"Thank you for being here in the community," she said, "choosing to show up for each other."
Her speech touched on a number of issues, including the government shutdown, immigration, her Green New Deal and Amazon's decision to pull out of a deal that would have established one of the company's headquarters in Queens.
"We don't have to settle for scraps in the greatest city in the world," she said, referring to the $3 billion tax incentives provided to Amazon, a company valued at over $1 trillion. "If others don't want to negotiate with us, that's not our problem."
Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most prominent elected officials to receive flak over the company's decision to pull out of the deal. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the deal would have brought a flood of new jobs to the area and increased property values.
But the congresswoman did not waver in her opposition, calling on her constituents to be brave and unafraid. She encouraged them to speak truth to power, build a community capable of change and establish a relationship with her office, promising to hold a town hall every month.
"I'm still looking forward to our next two years," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez also defended her Green New Deal, which the Republican Party had blasted since her office first introduced it.
"The Green New Deal doesn't belong to me. The Green New Deal belongs to indigenous communities, it belongs to the residents of Flint it belongs to Puerto Rico, it belongs to the victims of wildfires."
Though only a freshman lawmaker, Ocasio-Cortez secured a spot on the House Financial Services Committee last month, also known as the House Oversight Committee, which regulates and oversees the financial services industry.
In the past, she has said that she's "fighting for a working class agenda," supporting things like universal healthcare, tuition-free colleges and universities and renewable energy.
"Personally, I'm looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking," said Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter after joining the committee.
Ocasio-Cortez's address comes as she has secured a lot of momentum and support on the more liberal side of the party and on social media.
But while speaking to her constituents on Saturday, she focused on working together to "continue to create community."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram
🎶What would you do if I sang out of tune,
would you stand up and walk out on me?/
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song/
and I'll try not to sing out of key. /
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends /
mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends 🎶
This was one of my papa’s favorite songs. Before he passed away, he built a trellis for my mother by hand in our backyard. He wanted to inscribe this lyric around the edges, but never got the chance. I have always felt that this is a love song, but a love song for friendship.
This #internationalwomensday, I’m thinking about (and grateful for) sisterhood. At the heart of sisterhood, like so many meaningful relationships, is love. And to me, loving people isn’t about who you’re trying to be a “rockstar” in front of. Love is about who you’re unafraid to let see you sing out of tune. 🎤
📸: @rashidatlaib + @azizthefrenchie
Happy St. Pat’s for All Parade Day from Sunnyside, Queens! ☘️
The St. Pat’s for All parade began as a demonstration for LGBTQ+ inclusion in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, when people originally tried to keep the LGBT community out of the parade (unfortunately, some NYC parades still do - which speaks to the work still left to be done). The Queens community wasn’t going to stand for that, and 20 years ago the community launched St. Pat’s for All, to celebrate Irish values of welcoming and inclusion to all people - no matter who you love or whatever your station in life may be.
Launched by Councilman Danny Dromm +activist Brendan Fay, St. Pat’s for All is a core tradition in NY14, and happens a bit before the citywide St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
YEEERRRRRR 🙅🏿♂️🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♂️ 🔥 Had a blast & honored to be the first guest on @shodesusandmero today! They also visited me in DC and gave a few housewarming gifts from home 🎁 just aired - check it out!
Walking into #SOTU like
Losar Tashi Delek! Spent this morning with our NY-14 Tibetan community to celebrate Lunar New Year ✨ This little one and I were playing with giving each other Tibetan white scarves, or Khatas, which are auspicious tokens given to honor others on holidays and special occasions. We had so much fun! 💜
Behind every strong woman... are more strong women 😉 #ittakesavillage
We open doors so others can walk through them.
If Republicans thought women dancing in college is scandalous, wait till they find out women dance in Congress, too! 😉
Tonight we celebrated #Chanukah in community with @jfrejnyc & many others. It was a blast, and Rabbi Mia extended to me the honor of helping her light the Shamash - the servant candle that sparks the others. I’m so inspired by that idea, that each and every one of us can be a ‘shamash’ for our friends, family, and community. Let’s take that energy and light into the start of this coming week!
"No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice — one protected by the first amendment." - @ilhanmn, badass-elect, MN
Ilhan is my homie! 👯♀️ I’m so proud of her AND proud to support her as we bust down the doors to overturn the 181-year old House rule that says headscarves aren’t allowed in Congress.
This year, and with Ilhan’s leadership, we’re gonna flip the script and tell hijabi girls all over the world that they can run the board, fight for Medicare for All, and rock a nice headscarf if they please.
To learn more about the journey to change House rules, check today’s IG story where I link to @teenvogue’s article about it.
Today’s the day. To the countless supporters, door-knockers, organizers, small-dollar donors, and everyone in between - thank you.
This journey has been one of the most challenging and rewarding collective efforts I’ve ever been a part of. We haven’t just run a campaign - we created a movement in our own backyard. We built community. We centered issues that no one wanted to talk about. We uplifted our neighbors and discovered a level courage + friendship we never thought possible.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey and followed us along to this moment. No matter what happens, this is just a beginning. Let’s continue walking shoulder-to-shoulder in the advancement of economic, social, + racial justice in the United States of America.
We’re back out there hitting the streets and connecting with the community for November - come swing by our Queens & Bronx offices to pitch in!
Own your power.
For so many, it’s radical to feel comfortable in your own skin - and to know that you are more than enough, just as you are.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
So take up space. Speak up. Hold the door open and take others with you. Accept that you will be criticized no matter what - that is the price of fighting for change and innovation. I consider constructive criticism a blueprint for improvement and a medicine for ego.
Ultimately, the people who get down, stay focused in adversity, and do the thankless work of change are the ones who transform society. We can all be a part of that, if we so choose. We can all knock a door, register our cousin to vote, or educate ourselves on an issue we’re curious about.
We are all capable of awakening and commitment. And because of that, we can all be great.
Another day, another door 🚪
Passing the baton to @biaggi4ny for her NY primary on 9/13! ✨
☔️👧🏾: “I‘m going to vote for you!”
👩🏽💼: “Thank you so much! One day I will vote for you, too.”
IT’S OFFICIAL: OCASIO2018 IS ON THE BALLOT FOR NY-14! 🔥
This is what ~5,500 grassroots signatures, collected by 141 volunteer witnesses, held by 1 overwhelmingly grateful candidate at midnight looks like! 💪🏽💪🏽 #peoplepower
All weekend, high-priced opposition lawyers were crawling over our petitions to find any excuse to bump me off the ballot.
Ultimately, our grassroots 5X effort was too overwhelming. As of midnight last night, no objections were filed to our campaign for Congress.
Ocasio2018 is on the ballot for NY-14 all thanks to YOU. THANK YOU to our supporters, door knockers, petition captains, donors, prayer squads, EVERYONE who helped make this happen in all ways large and small.
Now it’s time to kick it into high gear. Join us in the Bronx THIS SAT for our organizing rally and Barnstorm. You are all officially invited - so you have no reason to say “I’ve never been to the Bronx” again! COMMIT NOW: LINK IN BIO.
Speechwriting on the 6 train.
2018 is finally here. For the next six months, we must work non-stop on this campaign.
Join us by making calls to Bronx and Queens voters this weekend. You can do it from anywhere, or even host a few friends and make it a party. RSVP now - link in bio. 📸: @josealvarado
Ocasio2018: Signing bills and asking questions since Pre-K 📝
In case you haven't heard, I've been nominated to run for office! U.S. Congress to be specific. Thank you all for the incredible support so far - we're going to need it for this wild ride to come. Special thanks to Rachel & Robin for giving me the honor of holding my first campaign baby and having him stuff a dandelion up my nose 🇺🇸 #brandnewcongress