Excitingly, three of the seven women in the film Grabbing Back were victorious on November 6th, 2018 and will be heading to Congress on January 3rd, 2019. Lauren Underwood, Jahana Hayes and Ayanna Pressley are the first black women from Illinois’ 14th District, Connecticut and Massachusetts to win a congressional seat, marking 50 years and one day from the anniversary of Shirley Chisholms’ historical victory.
Lauren Underwood, a nurse from Illinois and the youngest black woman to serve in Congress, had a stunning victory against a four term Republican incumbent to flip a House seat. About her win at her victory party she said, “Look at what we have done…You stood up and declared that this community deserves better…Together we have built a movement. That is democracy.” And Ayanna Pressley, who espousing “Change can’t wait”, had a remarkable victory in Boston, Massachusetts against the long time establishment candidate, bringing an overdue new voice to Congress. Also featured in our film is Jahana Hayes, who had another long shot win in her November 14th primary as the unendorsed Democratic candidate to beat her opponent, and again broke the glass ceiling to resoundingly defeat her Republican rival in the general election. Hayes’ exceptional story as the underdog in this race and her ability to overcome obstacles throughout her life (from teenage mom to 2016 teacher of the year awarded by Barack Obama), has also made her an inspiring candidate and a central subject of our film. Her students were her inspiration, when she considered running for congress, thinking, “Who will speak for them?”.
In addition to the three Congresswoman-elects, our film features other extraordinary black women candidates, including Stephany Rose Spaulding, a Professor and Pastor in Colorado who ran unopposed going into the general election; Pam Keith, a powerhouse Veteran who is in the battleground state of Florida; and two trailblazing women from New Jersey, Tanzie Youngblood and Tamara Harris who lost their primaries in June. All of these women are powerful, engaging and inspiring subjects.