Home Jennifer McClellan Video: Speaking with Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA04), “History Maker” Nancy Pelosi Talks...

Video: Speaking with Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA04), “History Maker” Nancy Pelosi Talks About Breaking the “Marble Ceiling,” the Great Diversity of House Dems, Hakeem Jeffries Being Speaker “I’m hoping this year,” etc.

Rep. McClellan: "It's been crazy but knowing that I'm making a difference on on such a bigger scale"


See below for video and highlights from a very interesting conversation between “history maker” former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA04), the first African-American woman to represent Virginia in Congress.

  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “First of all, let me just say it was a marble ceiling – glass would be easy around here. This was a couple hundred years of everybody being in line, a pecking order; and so we had to sort of disrupt that. My advice to young women, or any women who are coming either out of school or out of the kitchen as I did to the Congress, is just be yourself – the authenticity of you, the individuality of you, is something so wonderful and so needed in our country; nothing is more wholesome to the political process or the governmental process than the increased participation and leadership of women. As you know and have contributed to so personally yourself, the other part of it is it’s tough, it’s not a for the faint of heart as you probably know…so know why know your why. I always say to people, know your why; if you know why you’re doing this… And when you know your why, it makes all the rest of it easy – you don’t even mind the slings and arrows, because you’re there for the children or in my case for the children.”
  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “I think we’re at a place, Jennifer – and by the way, we’re so rich with Jennifers from Virginia, aren’t we? Maybe more to come, who knows. But I think we’re at a place, whether it’s in entertainment or whatever, where we have to make our own future. And it’s not about incrementally women doing a little bit better, a little bit better, it’s about changing everything…When I ran for Whip, my first race in leadership, I had to leapfrog over all these ideas that people had about leadership here. And I think that everybody’s ready for women to be more. And look, in your case you came here just as your predecessor did, effective from the start. And I know that your experience in Virginia served our whole country well when you arrived. We’re so thrilled that you’re here.”
  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “…When I came, there were out of 435 members, 23 women – 12 Democrats 11 Republicans…So I made a decision being the former chair of the California Democratic Party that I knew how to win elections and we were going to be on a path to encourage, to help finance, to give confidence to women, to say we need you here…And now we have 94, we went from 12 to 94, I still want more and we’re going to get more….And it’s not just women…it’s women of color and other people of diversity. I’m so proud of the fact that our caucus is over 70% women, people of color and LGBTQ – it’s a remarkable thing. Now we want more and we must have the majority. And I’m so pleased that our leadership is so diverse. Any one of them could be Speaker – Hakeem will be, I’m hoping this year, but it may have to wait until next year, we’ll see – you never know with all the things that go on.”
  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “I think that I can say to you with great pleasure that you have lived up to every expectation and beyond, and you look like you enjoy it so much.”
  • Rep. Jennifer McClellan: “Oh I love it, I love every minute of it, even the crazy moments I love…I joke with my husband all the time…I knew I was going to make history as the first Black woman elected from Virginia, but I didn’t know how much history with ousting the Speaker…It’s been crazy but knowing that I’m making a difference on on such a bigger scale and there are a lot of good people here trying to do the right thing. The crazies just, they bog things down, but we keep working.”
  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “Well, you’ve come at an unusual time when we have so many women, of course that’s important..But the necessity of you’re being here when you see what’s happening on the other side…When I came we had much more collegiality and bipartisanship…The difference in values now is quite drastic…there’s some people we will never get, I mean they just don’t share our values in terms of
    respect for the dignity and worth of every person and to meet the needs of every person in our country.”
  • Former Speaker Pelosi: “I see the courage of our members here that just is astounding, because we have to vote our conscience, we have to vote the Constitution, we have to vote our constituents, and sometimes our constituents are not understanding the national issue…they’re not here to know what the choices are that takes courage.”


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