After teasing her State of the Union guest over the weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Monday that she was bringing Ana Maria Archila, one of the women who famously confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator during Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
“She’s living proof that the courage within all of us can change [the world],” Ocasio-Cortez wrote of Archila on Twitter following the Intercept’s original report.
On September 28, one day after Christine Blasey Ford delivered a heartbreaking testimony alleging that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was in high school, Archila and protester Maria Gallagher stopped Flake in an elevator to condemn him for ignoring the voices of sexual-assault survivors. Flake had vocalized his intent to vote for Kavanaugh earlier that morning; after the fierce elevator confrontation, though, the Republican senator delayed the nomination by requesting an FBI investigation — a move that was viewed as a direct result of Archila and Gallagher’s bravery. (Flake did eventually vote to confirm Kavanaugh.)
On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez started to drop hints about her SOTU guest on social media, in one instance tweeting a photo of a pin that read, “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.” She captioned the picture with a clue: “I just picked up this gift for them at our very own Lockwood Shop in Jackson Heights.”
The hint referred to Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional district. Along with being the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, Archila is a also constituent of Ocasio-Cortez’s — a politician Archila told the Intercept that she “felt so proud of voting for.” So, when the congresswoman invited her to accompany her to Trump’s SOTU speech, she was honored.
“I just feel particularly moved that in her first participation in the State of the Union, she is inviting me to join and inviting that moment of the elevator, my confrontation with the men who do not understand the life of women and the lives of people who are not in power, that she’s inviting that into the imagination of people again,” Archila told the Intercept.
Ocasio-Cortez hopes that Archila’s presence can serve as a powerful reminder to sexual-assault survivors: that they “will not be silenced, diminished, or forgotten.”