Who is Cori Bush? Black Lives Matter Activist Defeats 20-Year Rep.

Cori Bush, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist in Missouri, defeated 20-year incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. in a tight Democratic primary race on Tuesday.

Bush, 44, celebrated her victory against Clay Jr., saying her win was a sign that Missouri residents are ready for change.

"Tonight, Missouri's 1st District has decided that an incremental approach isn't going to work any longer," Bush told supporters at a news conference, according to The New York Times.

"We decided that we the people have the answers, and we will lead from the front lines."

If elected in November, Bush, a former nurse and pastor, will become the first Black woman to represent the state of Missouri in Congress.

In the wake of George Floyd's killing, Bush has been outspoken in calling for racial justice. She has been a prominent voice in the BLM movement for years, becoming a protest leader in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown's death in 2014.

Bush's victory brings an end to the Clay dynasty's hold on the House seat, which is based in St. Louis. Clay and his father former Rep. William Clay Sr., who co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus, have represented constituents in the area since 1969.

This was not Bush's first run against Clay, however, with the BLM activist launching an unsuccessful challenge against the incumbent in 2018 after being recruited as a "Justice Democrat" alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Justice Democrats had sought to unseat moderate Democratic incumbents, which Ocasio-Cortez succeeded in doing, along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who was leading in her own primary race against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones early Wednesday.

Like Ocasio-Cortez, Bush has earned the praise of former Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who endorsed the activist in her 2020 bid.

In a tweet on Tuesday night, Sanders congratulated Bush on her primary victory, writing: "She is a true progressive who stands with working people and will take on the corporate elite of this country when she gets to Congress."

If elected in November, Bush has vowed to fight for major upheaval of the U.S. criminal justice system, including the defunding of police departments.

She has also pushed for Medicare for all, as well as for universal basic income.

Newsweek has contacted Bush's campaign for comment.

Cori Bush
Missouri Democratic congressional candidate Cori Bush gives her victory speech at her campaign office on August 4, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty
Who is Cori Bush? Black Lives Matter Activist Defeats 20-Year Rep. | U.S.