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This is a speech I gave at a farewell ceremony at the FCC honoring Commissioner Clyburn.

It’s hard to be the first, especially if you’re a person of color entering an arena that has never welcomed someone like you before. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is.

It also means the hopes of many people who have fought through the days, weeks, years and decades are being realized.

But there is so much uncharted territory. Our community needs a trailblazer who will fight for us, lead us and pave a way in fighting for the world that we deserve.

As the first Black woman appointed FCC commissioner and the first woman to chair the agency, Mignon Clyburn has been and continues to be that trailblazer our community needs.

Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color Of Change, has often stated that presence isn’t power … power is the ability to change the rules. 

And that is what Commissioner Clyburn has set out to do throughout her tenure.

She has fought for just media and telecom policies that empower communities of color rather than harm us. And it isn’t easy for lawmakers and regulators to fight for communities of color.

Our nation has a long history of policymakers employing fearmongering and racist tactics in an effort to adopt policies that benefit the elite at the expense of the many.

But Commissioner Clyburn has shown political courage time and time again. She has stood with our communities in fighting to end predatory prison-phone rates, close the digital divide with the Lifeline program, ensure broadband companies protect our privacy rights, and protect the open internet.

This is why we stand with her. And I’m sure I speak for my colleagues at the Center for Media Justice, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, 18 Million Rising and Color Of Change in saying thank you.

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for being there for us.  Your tenure at the FCC has been so consequential for communities of color.

You have played a critical role in showing us what’s possible and what we need to fight for.  And even though these are your last hours at the FCC, we still need you — now more than ever — in the continued struggle for a just media system.

Thank you.

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