Rep. Cori Bush tells Americans 'don't lose hope' as US grapples with division

"We have to stand strong no matter what the adversity," the congresswoman said.

January 18, 2021, 3:45 PM

As the United States continues to work through deep political divides during Martin Luther King Jr. Day, newly elected Missouri Rep. Cori Bush encouraged Americans to "have hope."

Bush, a single mother of two, has spoken openly about struggling to makes ends meet while experiencing homelessness and domestic violence. On "The View's" special episode honoring King's life and legacy Monday, she shared a message with Americans who feel hopeless after the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

PHOTO: Rep. Cori Bush joins "The View" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.
Rep. Cori Bush joins "The View" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.
ABC News

"Don't feel hopeless, because that's how we get through. You gotta have hope," Bush said. "That hope is on the inside of you."

"We have to stand strong no matter what the adversity, no matter what it looks like. Our faith has to be the core of everything that we do," she added. "Our faith in action is how we make change."

Bush recalled a time when she was living in her car with her then-partner and two children. She said they'd move around St. Louis because they didn't have a home to sleep in.

"I didn't lose hope," Bush said. "I was hurt, I was tired, I was humiliated, I was burdened, I was oppressed, but I didn't lose hope."

"Dr. King's legacy was not about sitting back and allowing other people to do the work. His legacy was not about letting someone else dictate how we should feel," Bush said. "His legacy was about making sure that dignity and a quality of life for each and every person was available."

Bush encouraged people to think of themselves as "an instrument of peace." She asked people to use every "gift," "talent" and "skill" they have to help in denouncing racial hatred.

"We can do our part to make this an anti-racist society," she said.

She went on to say that if people communicate with their neighbors and social groups about racial equality, they can put "some real intention behind" making America an "anti-racist country."

Bush, who was sworn in on Jan. 3, is the first Black woman in Missouri's history to represent the state in congress. She defeated Republican candidate Anthony Rogers and Libertarian candidate Alex Furman to win the election for Missouri's 1st Congressional District.

She was at the Capitol three days after taking her oath when Trump supporters stormed the building during the certification of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' victory in the 2020 election.

She told "The View" that her on-the-ground activism has prepared her for the new role. “I have been in this place of fight-or-flight for six years,” she said.

A former nurse and pastor, Bush made a name for herself as a progressive activist when she began protesting in the St. Louis area in 2014 after Michael Brown, a Black 18-year-old, was fatally shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, which is now a part of Bush's district.

Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department in November 2014, the same month a grand jury chose not to indict him for Brown's death. In March 2015, the U.S. Justice Department also declined to prosecute him, citing evidence and witnesses supporting Wilson's claims that Brown attacked him.

PHOTO: Newly elected Rep. Cori Bush speaks during the impeachment debate on the House floor, Jan. 13, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.
Newly elected Rep. Cori Bush speaks during the impeachment debate on the House floor, Jan. 13, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.
ABC News

During last Wednesday's impeachment hearing, Bush called the insurrection an act of white supremacy, after which she was booed by some colleagues. She reacted to the incident on "The View," doubling down on categorizing the Capitol attacks as an act of white supremacy and calling President Donald Trump one himself.

"When I called out white supremacy ... it had to be done," Bush said. "From the House floor, we cannot sit back and allow a president to come against our democracy, and not only that. He has emboldened so many other leaders and elected officials and community members to do the same."

"We'll call you exactly what you are. You're a white supremacist president -- white supremacist in chief," she said of Trump on "The View."

Bush said that when some House members booed her, she thought, "We're good," because they "heard me."

"You weren't on your phones ... you weren't talking, having conversations. Oh, you heard every word I said and your colors showed," she said. "You showed us how you really feel about it. You want to [up]hold white supremacy."

In a December 2020 interview with ABC News for "The Year: 2020" special, Bush reflected on how the Black Lives Matter movement has grown and why she decided to run for Congress.

"I didn't set out to become an activist. That wasn't even a thing back then," Bush, who said she lived six minutes away from where Brown died, told ABC News. "I was watching my community in rage. I was watching my community just look a way and feel a way that I was unfamiliar with."

With the influx of corporations endorsing Black Lives Matter in the wake of George Floyd's death and the phrase appearing in advertisements and on clothes, Bush said the movement is "all over the place" as if it were a "fad." But she doesn't want it to end there.

"What we need to do now is not allow it to be a fad," she said. "We need it to be fact because when it's fact, we get to live."

Every episode of ABC's award-winning talk show "The View" is now available as a podcast! Listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or the ABC News app.

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