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Meet Cori Bush, A Single Mom, Nurse, & Now Missouri's First Black Congresswoman

While the nation waits to find out the results of the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Donald Trump, the election has already delivered some historic victories to celebrate. Like when news broke about Cori Bush, who became Missouri's first Black congresswoman on Tuesday night.

Back in August, according to The New York Times, Bush beat out longtime Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who had taken over the seat from his own father in 2000. And it was that victory that led Bush to Election Day in November, where she went on to make history by becoming the first Black congresswoman from the state of Missouri. Not only the first Black woman, as Bush herself noted in her acceptance speech, but also "the first nurse and single mother to have the honor to represent Missouri in the United States Congress."

"To the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers — this is our moment," Bush said in her acceptance speech on Tuesday night.

As Bush prepares for this momentous next chapter, it's important to honor the road that lead her to the steps of Congress because her story is simply incredible.

She's A Single Mom
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Bush is no career politician with a lifetime of privilege landing her in Congress. As she told Essence, she is a single mother of two children who has struggled with homelessness in the past. "I always think that ‘I am the people I serve.’ I did not coin the phrase, but I always say that because I have lived low-wage. I’ve been unhoused, living out of a car with two children," she shared with the magazine.

Bush is mom to an 20-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, and it was her role as mom to a young Black man that saw her become deeply involved in activism in Ferguson, Missouri after the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. "Thinking about my son who was 14 at the time, and my daughter who was 13, if I didn’t stand up, could one of them be the next hashtag?" she told Essence. "And I thought about our congressperson… He was out there, I remember, one time for a photo op when we protested more than 400 days."

She's A Nurse & Pastor

According to her LinkedIn page, Bush worked as a nurse at Amanda Luckett Murphy Hopewell Center in St. Louis for seven years while also heading out in the community as a pastor for Kingdom Embassy International Church from 2011-2014.

Those two jobs offered her unique insight into how best to help the people in her district. As she explained to People, "I just felt [like], well I'm a nurse, I can go be a medic on the ground. I'm clergy, so I can go out and pray with people."

She's A Black Lives Matter Activist

Bush is a Black Lives Matter organizer who got her start during the 2014 Ferguson protests, where she had mace sprayed in her face by police for her activism. She remains an unapologetic activist who plans to use all of the roles in her life to make a difference in Congress, as she wrote in a 2019 essay for Refinery 29: "As a single parent, registered nurse, ordained pastor, activist, and community organizer, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel the impact of a government that doesn’t work for us."

She's Featured In A Netflix Documentary

Bush was featured in the 2019 documentary Knock Down The House, which followed the lives of four progressive Democratic politicians aiming to change a broken system. One of the other subjects of the film, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, had this to say about Bush in the documentary: "What Cori is doing is giving people something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”

She Had No Health Insurance On Campaign Trail
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Bush is one of the few politicians out there who ran without health insurance, so when she was admitted to the emergency room with pneumonia-like symptoms (but tested negative for COVID-19) in August, she understood what so many Americans go through — the fear of what her health will cost. As she told The New York Times, "I’m worried about the bill I’m going to receive," she said. "I drove myself to the emergency room, even though I should have taken an ambulance, but I didn’t want that bill. And now the bill from the hospital stay, the bill from being admitted, and the doctor’s bill, which is all separate."

With politicians in Congress like Cori Bush — a single mom, a nurse, an activist, and someone who understands what it's like to live without health insurance — there is a tiny ray of hope for our future.