MA Rep. Ayanna Presley Stepped In To Save Senator Elizabeth Warren Amidst Protestors At HBCU Event

Updated: May 3, 2020

This article was originally published in The Panther Newspaper, The Student Voice of Clark Atlanta University that provides news to a consortium of 8,000 African-American scholars. The newspaper is not yet digital. For verification of publishing contact: James McJunkins

In the midst of Democrat Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren delivering her “Value The Work of Black Women” speech to a crowd of nearly 1,000 listeners at CAU, a section of around 100 protesters broke out in chants of “our children, our choice” accompanied by rhythmic stomps, that prevented Warren from continuing on with the first portion of her address.

The chants were led by community organizer, Sarah A. Carpenter, a Memphis native that drove down to Atlanta with her “Powerful Parent Network,” of parents working against Warren’s stance on reining in on private/for-profit charter schools.

Warren’s education plan, released in Oct., focuses on increasing funding of public schooling rather than for profit institutions. The plan is to “invest hundreds of billions of dollars into public schools if she wins the presidency, paid in part through her proposed two-cent tax on wealth over $50 million, in accordance with The Intercept

Carpenter, an African-American woman, was asked to leave the speech by the Clark Atlanta security, for disturbing the presentation. As she was asked to leave, Carpenter responded to all officials, “I am a black woman, she’s (Warren) is supposed to be here to hear me.” 

Carpenter’s removal from Epps Gymnasium did not end the rally calls from the Powerful Parent Network, their chants of “our children, our choice” and “we want to be heard” were met by opposing chants from audience members of “let her speak” and “Warren, Warren, Warren.”

It was not until introductory speaker, U.S Rep. Ayanna Presley took to the mic, to defuse the protesting on Warren’s behalf.

“No one is here to quiet you, at least not this black woman. I know what it is when people try to put me in a corner and tell me to be silent. You are welcome here. The senator is here to talk about the contributions fighters like you have made to history. We are grateful for your activism and for your voice. We would love to convene after this about the issue that you are here to stow our consciousness about, but when these women have been ignored this long, this is their moment and we are going to hear them,” Presley stated. 

Carpenter and the Powerful Parent Network are an extension of Memphis Lift, a “for parents by parents organization that envisions a day when every child regardless of their zip code will have access to quality public school.”

According to the Memphis Lift website, “55 of the 81 lowest performing schools in the state of Tennessee are in Memphis” and because of that “only 1 in 6 children in low performing schools can read on grade level.”

“I’m not against [Warren], I’m against her education plan. I’m not against nobody. Again I say, we live this. We don’t play this. We waited and waited and saw where it was headed. They were not going to listen to us,” Carpenter said. 

When asked about her thoughts on meeting with Warren and Pressley after the speech, Carpenter added, “That’s not how you get my vote. Black people are tired of you coming to our community when you want us to vote for you. Come before its time to vote so you can see the schools that are falling apart. We didn’t want to disrupt nothing, we sit there, and sit there, and saw where it was going. No one wanted to listen to us. Our kids ain’t making it to college. We want our kids to make it to Clark.” 

The Powerful Parent Network has stated that they will follow Warren everywhere she goes across the country until she meets with them. They are fueling these travels solely through GoFundMe donations.

Despite the protests, Warren’s speech went on as planned. She touched on all of her known plans for presidency such as her intention to “put $800 billion into public schools, and to quadruple funding into schools that teach our children. I have a debt cancelation plan for student loans that will close the Black/white wage gap and my higher education plan will invest $50 billion into HBCUs,” stated Warren. 

The speech took place in CAU’s Epps Gymnasium, on Nov. 21st at 6 PM to highlight Warren’s high regard of African-American women, people, and students.

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