A surprise waited for newly elected City Councilor Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday as she entered the council chamber before its weekly meeting, her nerves jittery in anticipation of her maiden speech.
Pressley's mother was in the second row of the public gallery, fresh off a train from Brooklyn, NY. When her daughter entered the chamber, Sandra Pressley stood up.
"Mom!" Ayanna Pressley said in an exasperated tone more fitting for a daughter than an at-large city councilor. "What are you doing here?"
Sandra Pressley responded in song: "Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you ... "
It was, indeed, Ayanna Pressley's 36th birthday, and she used the milestone as a jumping off point for her first speech. Pressley, the first black woman to serve on the council, addressed a recent upswing in teenage pregnancies in Boston, with "alarming disparities by race and ethnicity."
Pressley's own upbringing was not easy, she explained in the speech. Her father battled addiction the first 16 years of her life, she said, drifting in and out of jail.
"My life growing up was still at times a real struggle," Pressley said as she turned to look up at her mother. "I think itís safe to say now that I turned out pretty well, and that she did pretty well on her own."
Sandra Pressley smiled proudly.
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