Sonia Chang-Díaz delivers remarks at the 2021 MassDems Platform Convention
Sep 25, 2021
BOSTON, MA - Massachusetts State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Díaz spoke today at the 2021 Mass Dems Platform Convention.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
I’m Sonia Chang-Díaz.
I’m a mom, a former public school teacher, a state senator, a grassroots organizer, and I’m running for governor to build the Massachusetts you and I know is possible — the commonwealth we all want our kids to grow up in.
I grew up moving between two different worlds, as a multiracial child with a single mom living in a wealthy, white community.
My dad was an immigrant who came to America from Costa Rica with just $50 in his pocket — but with the help of teachers, lunch ladies and librarians, he made it not only to college, but he made it to space, becoming NASA’s first Latino astronaut. My mom was a social worker and a woman of faith. She spent her career helping women and children struggling on the margins of society.
Growing up it was clear my family was different. My classmates had cars and took trips to Europe. We didn't have those things but I got the same education as the rest of the kids in my ZIP code and for that I’m forever grateful.
But I know my story is an exception.
So when I graduated from college, knowing full well what a difference a high quality education made in my life, I wanted to pay this debt forward. I decided to be a teacher in one of the poorest, least funded school districts in Massachusetts: Lynn.
Every day, I could feel the way the wealth gap impacted my students: never enough paper in the supply closet, kids coming to school without winter coats, low expectations, and too many students on each teacher’s roster. I saw how state and local governments went above and beyond to care for the children of wealthy families, like the ones I grew up with — but somehow lost its sense of urgency when it came to children struggling on the margins.
State government was choosing not to see them. Choosing to abandon my students in Lynn.
So I became an organizer. I got out there and organized for the things that would produce change for my students: voting rights, more women in office, progressive policy. And still, real change wasn’t happening.
So, in 2008 I decided to run myself. And to the surprise of all the naysayers, I won; I became the first Latina to serve in the Massachusetts State Senate. For the past 12 years I’ve been fighting like hell alongside working families.
I’ve found myself once again moving between two different worlds. Going from fancy boardrooms in the morning to housing development community rooms at night.
And in that back and forth I’ve found that Beacon Hill lacks a critical ingredient: urgency.
In Massachusetts, we like to consider ourselves the best, brightest and most progressive. But our systems are failing hundreds of thousands of families.
And over the past 7 years, whenever working families have pushed for progress, Gov. Baker has repeatedly blocked, delayed, and watered down that progress.
That’s how today, across the Commonwealth:
Students spend years earning their degree, but get crushed under student debt,
Moms and dads wonder whether their babies will inherit a planet that will sustain them.
Black and brown kids, and their parents, worry their next encounter with the police could be their last.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We’re up against tremendous challenges: a global pandemic, an economy that only works for those at the top, a racial reckoning, and the consequences of climate change.
Big problems demand solutions at a scale to match. We have to stop putting people in charge who are more concerned with holding onto power than doing something with it.
This is Massachusetts, we know how to solve big problems.
In a state with more millionaires than 46 other states, we can pass a millionaires’ tax and build a more just economy.
As the wealth divide grows across our state, we can overcome it by investing intentionally in economic mobility.
And there’s more.
Massachusetts should lead on voting rights and health equity, on greening our energy use, and building a 21st Century transit system!
We can close the racial wealth divide, restore the middle class, and invest in all of our children.
I know transformational change is possible because I’ve lived it.
I've stood with advocates, community leaders, and so many of you to build a movement all across our state…
A movement to win major K-12 funding change even when the Baker/Polito Administration said it wasn’t possible.
A movement to win equal rights for transgender Bay Staters even when Baker opposed it!
A movement to win comprehensive criminal justice reform, even when Baker looked the other way on our broken and racist criminal legal system!
Now, we're building a movement to take on Charlie Baker himself.
My campaign is going to build a movement of grassroots activists, voters of color, working people, young people, and progressive voters across the state to win.
I’m running for Governor of Massachusetts because I believe we need to meet this moment with urgency and bold solutions.
If that is a future you believe in, a cause worth rolling up your sleeves and fighting for, I'm asking you to join me today.
Go to SoniaChangDiaz.com, organize with us to win that bold change. Stand up unapologetically for our values: fairness, dignity, community. That’s how we’re going to win in November 2022 and how we’re going to make Massachusetts work for all of our families.
Let’s get to work.