Hakeem Jeffries Just Made History—and Gave a Helluva Speech

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On Saturday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries made history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a congressional party, making a splash with his first official speech as House Minority leader in the wee hours of the morning.

“As John Lewis would sometimes remind us on this floor, we may have come over on different ships but we’re all in the same boat now,” said the New York Democrat, referencing the Civil Rights icon and longtime politician while addressing the 118th Congress. While the entire speech was well received, it was the final portion that really struck a chord with people, both in the chamber and online. Adopting a unique alphabetical format, the congressman’s inaugural speech cleverly lists the Democratic Party’s values with a Sesame Street-esque flair. He even made mention of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago scandal, earning a cheer from the audience. 

“House Democrats,” he said, “will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred, inclusion over isolation, justice over judicial overreach, knowledge over kangaroo courts, liberty over limitation, maturity over Mar-a-Lago, normalcy over negativity, opportunity over obstruction, people over politics, quality of life issues over QAnon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, ‘yes, we can’ over ‘you can do it,’ and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.” 

You can watch the full speech here. 

Watch House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ historic first speechWatch House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ historic first speech

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