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What Protests Can You Expect From Lawmakers At The SOTU?

#MeToo black fashion, boycotts, red pins or raised fists? Here's what you need to know about the upcoming State of the Union protests.
Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 26, 2018

From Hollywood to politics, the #MeToo movement is also shaking up Washington, D.C. Just like actors did during the Golden Globes, some members of Congress will be wearing black at President Donald Trump's State of the Union on Jan. 30 as a way to show the pervasiveness of sexual assault.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) shared her #MeToo experience online. She said: "I was working as a congressional staffer. The chief of staff held my face, kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth. So I know what it's like to keep these things hidden deep down inside."

Speier spearheaded the "Me Too" bill to address and prevent sexual harassment in Congress. So far, several prominent lawmakers have since stepped down over allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, including Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Also, more than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual harassment. The president has denied the claims.

Aside from black garb, some members of the Congressional Black Caucus plan to wear red pinsto honor the legacy of Recy Taylor, the black mother who was gang raped by six white men over 70 years ago. She never saw justice. In 2011, Alabama lawmakers passed a resolution apologizing to Taylor for the state's involvement in failing to prosecute her attackers.

Protest through fashion is not new. Last year, the Democratic Women's Working Group wore white as a symbol for women's progress and the suffrage movement. But others are skeptical of protest fashion in general. Five membersof Congress, including Maxine Waters and civil rights icon John Lewis, plan to skip the president's speech entirely. This comes after the president allegedly used a racial slur to describe African countries.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) said: "What does he have to say that I have any interest in? I don't trust him. I don't appreciate him. And I won't waste my time sitting in that house listening to what he has to say."

Some lawmakers mentioned they will bring a guest from the #MeToo movement or from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. And the members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they plan to protest, but they have yet to decide how.

 "We could go, we could go and walk out, we could go hold out a fist — or we could not go. So there is a million options that we can do," Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond said. 

Whether it's wearing black, a red pin or skipping Trump's address altogether, all eyes will be on the 2018 State of the Union.