Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing an Astoria activist as her guest to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night.
Ana Maria Archila, the co-executive founder of the Center for Popular Democracy was thrust into the national spotlight last fall when she and another activist, fellow New Yorker Maria Gallagher, stopped an elevator carrying then-Arizona Senator Jeff Flake at the Capitol Building on live TV. They identified themselves as sexual assault survivors and demanded that Flake explain his decision to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“Happy to announce that I will be bringing Ana Maria Archila, the NY-14 resident who confronted Jeff Flake ahead of the Kavanaugh vote, to the State of the Union this year,” Acasio-Cortez announced on Instagram Monday. “Her act of bravery elevated the stories of survivors around the country and had a profound impact, changing the vote’s proceedings and our national conversation around believing survivors.”
While Flake told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would vote to advance the nomination of Kavanaugh, who stood accused of sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she was 15, he called for a week’s delay to allow an FBI probe into the allegations. Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed and now sits on the Supreme Court.
“I will be joining Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an invited guest at the State of the Union tomorrow,” Archilla said in a statement. “Like millions of people, I am filled with hope by Alexandria’s fierce leadership, her bold vision, and her relentless belief that our country is abundant. We share the belief that if we confront the old power structures and make democracy work for the people, we can build a country where we all live in dignity.”
Having emigrated from Colombia to the U.S. at age 17, Archila has become one of the nation’s leading advocates for civil rights, access to decent and affordable health care, equity in education funding and resources, and immigrant rights first at the Jackson Heights-based Make the Road New York and now at the Center for Popular Democracy with an agenda that is pro-worker, pro-immigrant, and dedicated to racial and economic justice.