Secondary Navigation

First Lady Chirlane McCray Delivers Speech at Sojourner Truth Legacy Project Town Hall: "Black Women and Girls in American Media"

September 14, 2016

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Hello my busy, brilliant and blooming sisters! What a privilege it is to close a conversation that would have been unthinkable 150 years ago, when Sojourner Truth walked the streets of this city. 

We sit in the shadow of a Capital built in part by people who were enslaved.

In honor of Sojourner and all the Black women who made today possible, please do not leave this room without taking a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come.

The icons who spoke before me are not just some of the most powerful black women in the world, or even some of the most powerful woman in the world—they are some of the most powerful people in the world.

And they are far from alone—this room is bursting with pioneers, trailblazers and ceiling-breakers. But if we really want to make good on Sojourner’s legacy, then we must be vigilant. 

We must not let anyone talk us out of our power. Do you hear me? Because we all have significant power. And we must not shrink from it, even when it might be inconvenient; or when the haters talk in all caps, and put us on the front page of a newspaper.

Like many of you, I’ve had my name dragged through the mud, but so far no one has stooped lower than the New York Post when they put together this embarrassment to journalism:

For those of you who can’t see, this is a very large photo of my face, next to an even bigger headline that screams, and I quote: “I was a bad mom!”

And they even had the audacity to put a photo of our daughter, Chiara, in the corner.

I was stunned when they printed a total misrepresentation of what I said. The words and the visual were clearly meant to horrify. And the message lurking between the lines was crystal clear: “You are the lowest of the low. We are shaming you. Follow our rules—or else.”

And of course it made me angry, even though I believed that cover said more about that newspaper than it said about me. But Women wrote in protest. My Sisters supported me. And I -- was not going to slink quietly into the shadows. Because that’s not what women like us do, right? 

We speak truth to power. And we write our own rules, just like we write our own blogs, our own TV shows, our own movie scripts —our own future.

Sojourner Truth said it beautifully: “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!”

And that is exactly what each one of us must do. For ourselves and for each other. Now, I hope you all saved some energy, so we can close out on an up note. Are you with me?

Please repeat after me: 

I am powerful.

We are powerful.

We write our own rules. And the future is ours.

I love you all. Have a fantastic evening, and thank you!

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958