Updated: May 1, 2020
My name is Rhonda Foxx and I’m running for Congress in North Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District. Like many North Carolinians, I come from a military family. I’m the proud daughter of a retired Army officer and public educator. My life has been about service and hard-work. That’s what led me to serve six women in federal government and politics. I became one of the youngest women of color Chiefs of Staff on Capitol Hill. I quickly learned that Congress, what we call the People’s House, doesn’t look like the people. That’s why our issues and our communities are being left behind.
In the words of Fannie Lou Hammer, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’. I come from the school of Shirley Chisholm; If I’m not given a seat at the table, I bring a folding chair. This campaign is our folding chair — our opportunity to make our issues heard and demand a more equitable future.
Here’s what I fought for:
Our nation was founded upon the principle of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those rights don’t exist without basic healthcare. The United States spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world, yet we have some of the worse outcomes. Our neighbors are rationing insulin, unable to afford prescription medications, and dying because they cannot afford life-saving treatments. This is unacceptable, immoral, and against our values and principles.
Without basic healthcare, our healthcare system will continue to be steeped in inequity. I watched a loved one drive nearly two hours each way for a better quality of care when they were diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We can’t tolerate a system where the hospital over here treats you better than the hospital over there. We’re better than that.
One of the gravest injustices in our healthcare system are the disparities in United States maternal mortality. The U.S. maternal mortality rates increased over the past decade with more than half of deaths being preventable. Guilford county still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state of North Carolina. The death rate in NC averages 6.8%, yet the Forsyth County rate is 8.3% while Guilford is at 8.5%. We owe so much to the doulas in our district, organizations like Cone Health Foundation and the Guilford County Partnership for Children/Smart Start, along with all individuals doing amazing work on the ground to move our state forward. We must champion legislation to support these services and organizations.
The only way to support these services is fighting for Medicare for All. Until we can achieve universal healthcare, American families need relief now. That’s why we must strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For now, the ACA is the law of the land, and while it isn’t perfect and still left too many Americans behind, it was a step in the right direction. I often say, “If there’s a hole in the wall, you don’t knock down the wall — you repair it.” We must stand up to Republican attempts to rollback the ACA and fight for universal healthcare as well as protecting Social Security and Medicare.
The cost of prescription drugs is an increasing burden on our country. We have to stop pharmaceutical companies from blocking generic brands that are less expensive as well as allow the importation of safe drugs from countries like Canada.
The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of more than 100 people every day. One in three people have been personally affected, either by knowing someone with an addiction or by someone who has overdosed. I empathize with the families in our district who have lost loved ones to this crisis. We absolutely have to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for making the crisis worse by aggressively marketing highly addictive painkillers. I will push for making drug companies pay the cost of addiction treatment services and cover the cost of life saving drugs like naloxone.
Strengthening Public Education
Education is the great equalizer — or at least it used to be. Since the 1980’s, the cost of college has more than doubled. Over 45 million Americans have student-loan debt, totaling more than $1.5 trillion dollars. The average student graduate who took out student loans has nearly $30,000 in debt. I have over $180,000 worth of student loan debt, and that’s just from UNC Law School, not including undergraduate. Too many of us are facing the crippling burden of student loan debt — that’s why I’ll push for tuition-free college and cancelling student loan debt, especially for public service members like public defenders and our North Carolina teachers. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it will also serve as an economic stimulus for our nation — empowering an entire generation of people to start small businesses or put a down payment on a home.
My mother is a public educator. I know that if we want our students to succeed, we have to strengthen our public education system. Our government gets over $7 back from every $1 invested in education. We have to fully fund public education and fund universal pre-K. And a large part of ensuring our students are equipped starts with paying our teachers what they deserve. I stand firmly with the teachers in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District and across the state that have called for higher wages. It’s not enough to say our teachers are shaping the future of the country — we must pay them like they are.
North Carolina is home to the most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the country, and we have three in our district. North Carolina’s HBCUs contribute over $2 billion dollars to our state economy, and HBCUs nationwide contribute over $15 billion to our national economy and have provided pathways of opportunity for millions of first generation college students. Additionally, HBCUs produce 80% of Black teachers, 42% of Black engineers, and nearly 50% of all Black professionals attended an HBCU. This is despite being historically and systemically underfunded and undervalued since their inception. Fully funding HBCUs is a key to strengthening our economy and preparing a strong 21st century workforce. I’m proud of my proven track record in fighting for these institutions, and serve proudly on the Board of Visitors at North Carolina A&T State University.
As a Chief of Staff I created the landmark HBCU Partnership Challenge which drove 46 companies to the Triad to forge deeper, more sustainable partnerships with our HBCUs. I also launched HBCU House — an initiative that has raised nearly one million dollars in scholarship support for HBCUs and connected their students to 21st century opportunities. If I can do this as a staffer I can do even more as a member of Congress.
Investing in Workforce Development & Job Training
The realities are, you don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to make a good wage. Here in North Carolina, we have a robust community college system that offers top-notch workforce development and job training programs. Many of our labor unions and local employers offer apprentice programs and professional certification courses which are strengthening the middle-class. We must make community college and two-year colleges free and invest in job training and workforce development. North Carolina’s greatest resource is her people — it’s time to invest in the people.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) devastated North Carolina. Our state lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs that were moved overseas. Those lost jobs have been replaced with more technical and advanced positions. We cannot leave our workers behind. That’s why we have a responsibility to invest in re-skilling and retooling our workforce so that American labor can capitalize on an educational competitive edge.
Fixing our Broken Criminal Justice System
Our criminal justice system is broken, and it doesn’t make us safe, instead it holds too many of us back. The U.S. has more people locked up than any other country in the world — nearly 2.2 million adults. African Americans are more likely than White Americans to be arrested, convicted and experience lengthy prison sentences. I know because I, myself, was impacted by the criminal justice system. I have experienced the flaws of our system up close and personal.
In our country, a rich and guilty person is treated far better than a poor and innocent person. That’s why we have to break down barriers that perpetuate unfair systems by ending cash bail, banning for-profit and private prisons, dramatically increasing funding for public defenders, data collection and prosecutorial reform, restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals, ending the school to prison pipeline and banning pregnant women from being shackled while in our prisons.
We are processing more crime than our system can handle. For example, 13 million Americans go through our misdemeanor system annually. Our courts are underfunded and ill-equipped to handle this level of crime. We are trampling the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. That’s why it’s imperative that we decriminalize things that clog our system, create more disparities in sentencing and don’t make us any safer — starting with marijuana. This is not only essential for our criminal justice system, but our banking and agricultural systems in North Carolina. I will push for the decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level as well as the expungement of records for people whose lives have been shattered by a broken criminal justice system.
Ending Everyday Gun Violence
As someone who has lost family members to guns, I know what it’s like to have a family defined and scarred by tragedy. Sadly, this experience is familiar to too many Americans. Everyday gun violence is ripping our families and communities apart. You cannot pick up a paper in our community without reading about another person shot — from High Point, to Greensboro, to Winston-Salem. Black Americans represent a majority of gun homicide victims, and the leading cause of death for Black children and teens are firearms. Women in this nation are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries. Enough is enough.
That’s why I will fight for federal funds to study everyday gun violence, to take on the NRA and corporate gun lobby, and to ban assault weapons and close gun loopholes. I proudly count myself among the more than 90% of Americans who support universal background checks. I’m also part of the majority who support an assault weapons ban. I believe this legislation is not out of our reach, but it requires courageous leadership. I will work tirelessly with activists across the country to build a movement that can overwhelm the influence of the NRA and corporate gun lobby.
Combating Climate Change and Environmental Injustice
Our world is on fire, and that should scare us all. We have a responsibility to pass down a livable planet to the generation that comes after us. Sea levels are rising, global temperatures are warming, and droughts and desertification are hurting our farmers. This isn’t a ‘them’ issue — it’s an ‘us’ issue. We must take bold, collective action to limit our carbon footprint and we only have 10 years to transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy economy.
That’s why I support the Green New Deal which calls on the federal government to move our nation away from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The Green New Deal also creates new and good paying jobs with a just transition for workers. The Green New Deal is common sense legislation that is good for our environment, workers and economy, and climate change must be the lens through which we see every issue.
Protecting our environment also means fighting environmental injustice. This is a big deal in North Carolina. We can no longer tolerate a system where certain communities are treated like dumpsters and trash cans by national and global corporations. In 2020, we should no longer be fighting for clean water and water, fighting against hog waste, cleaning up coal ash, dealing with the effects of off-shore drilling, and fighting to expand solar and wind. It is time to elect members of Congress with the courage to demand bold, progressive environmental protections, along with empowering communities with the tools to stand up for themselves.
Demanding Inclusive Development
Inclusive development requires inclusive representation. When I look across our District, I see a tale of the West and the East. The Eastern parts of our cities are gravely under developed — food deserts often lacking access to the internet, quality medical care, and clean water. As Democrats, we are better than this — especially in a District where the majority of our base resides in the East.
As someone who resides in East Greensboro, I know how important inclusive development is. I am fired up to ensure that we implement development plans that work for all of us — not just the wealthy few. The Poor People’s Campaign has been instrumental in fighting for economic opportunity across the state and it’s time we have leaders who have the courage and the fire to take to the streets with Rev. Barber and the countless bold and courageous clergy and activists all across our district.
This is more important now than ever because of recent opportunity zone legislation passed in Congress. The time is now to fight to ensure that development uplifts those without access to capital and doesn’t gentrify neighborhoods for the sake of making the rich richer at the expense of the poor. We have to ensure that minority and women owned businesses have contracting opportunities as we move forward with developing through opportunity zones.
Standing up for Food Justice
I live in a food desert in East Greensboro, so believe me when I say I know this matters. The Triad has consistently ranked among the most food insecure areas in the country. For many in our district, a fast food restaurant or a gas station serve as the grocery store. In 2019, there were more than two dozen food deserts in Guilford County alone. The nation’s largest Historically Black College & University is in a food desert. That’s unacceptable. Our children and young people struggling to find fresh fruits and vegetables is yet another form of systemic inequity.
I am committed to investing in urban agriculture (including aqua and hydroponics) and food co-operatives. As a congressional Chief of Staff, I designed a Triad based Congressional Hunger Initiative and worked to secure funding for the Renaissance Co-Op, the area’s first grocery store since the 90’s. As your Member of Congress, I would do even more to address food insecurity because we can no longer tolerate a community where our friends and families struggle to put quality food on their table.
Our food insecurity epidemic includes child nutrition and school nutrition programs. Our nation’s most valuable asset is the genius of our children. We suffocate and stifle that genius when we have children in schools who can’t pay attention in class because they are hungry. When I go to Congress, as a member representing one of the worst food deserts in the country, I’ll push for national legislation to guarantee every single student will receive state-funded lunches regardless of whether their parent(s) or guardian(s) have unpaid meal fees. We absolutely have to make this a priority because no human — especially our children — should ever go hungry.
Ending the Housing Crisis
Our district, like the rest of the country, has a major housing crisis due to soaring costs, stagnant wages and a lack of opportunity. That is why as your representative I would aim to serve on the House Financial Services Committee, and the sub-committee on Housing. If you work hard, you should make a living wage that allows you to put food on your table and roof over your head — period.
We bailed out wall-street, now it’s time to bailout the American people. That starts with providing tax credits for homeowners and renters. Too many young people are unable to purchase homes or truly believe in the American dream. We have to use the tools of the federal government to end homelessness and our housing crisis.
Making matters worse, gentrification has pushed people out of their homes and communities for far too long. We need to begin developing community land trusts and we have to eliminate redlining.
In our district, women make up well over 50% of the population — when women succeed, we all succeed. The state and the condition of women in the 6th Congressional District must be a top priority. In North Carolina and across the nation, women vote at higher rates, earn more degrees, and start more small businesses. Yet we struggle to make equal pay for equal work and lack equal access to capital. And even though women make up only 27% of elected officials across the nation, we are seldom asked to run for office and to hold leadership positions. Enough is enough.
I will fight for women’s equality, not just because I’m a woman, but because it’s good for our district, our state and our nation. We must all stand firm in defending a woman’s right to choose. States across the country, particularly in the south, have attempted to pass sweeping legislation to make it more difficult for a person to make decisions about their own bodies. Along with funding planned parenthood and codifying Roe v. Wade into law, we must ensure reproductive justice and pass federal laws to preempt state efforts that try to limit access to reproductive health care.
We also must demand equal pay for equal work. A woman still makes less than 80 cents to a man’s dollar, and that number drops even lower for women of color. Lower earnings for women means lower earnings for families — impacting ability to provide childcare, buy food, and invest in childhood education. I will push hard for greater access to capital and work to elect more women up and down the ballot.
Revitalizing Rural Development, Opportunity and Investment
For too long, leaders in Washington have ignored the concerns of rural communities. Governmental farming policies have given the wrong incentives with an approach to consolidate the food system and push farmers off their own land. This need not be.
I would help more Americans participate in our modern economy by pushing for investments and regulations that expand farming opportunities along with ensuring high speed broadband access. I strongly believe that we must make it possible for North Carolinian hemp farmers to capitalize on their true economic potential by rescinding archaic rules that restrict how hemp can be used. Unlocking agricultural potential also requires scientific investment. That’s why I would advocate for greater agricultural research to help farmers maximize their crop yields. At the same time, I would avoid costly trade wars that unnecessarily shrink global markets for our produce. We need policies that empower farmers and ranchers to address climate change and protect ecosystems. We can do this if we have the right leaders in Congress to move all of our communities forward.
Fighting for Workers’ Rights
Republicans in Congress will tell us that unemployment is ‘low’ or ‘ideal’ — but if any single person is looking to put a roof over their head and food on the table — they should be able to have a job. When we give North Carolinians a shot at work, we introduce more competition into the labor market, improve benefits for all workers, and raise wages for everyone.
It is unacceptable that there are workers at the Greensboro Coliseum and other jobs across the district still making less than $15 an hour. We need to push for an actual living wage across this state. The current wage of $7.25 hasn’t been raised since 2009.
We also have to make sure workers have the opportunity to join unions, strike and collectively bargain. When workers stick together, we can correct injustices and make true progress.
Veterans and Military Families
Every time a veteran is rendered homeless, unable to receive timely and adequate help from the VA, or tragically takes their own life, America abandons those who have sacrificed the most for this country. We owe veterans and their families, some of the bravest in our nation, the best resources to help them recover not only from physical injury, but also psychological trauma. Describing serious brain injuries as “headaches,” as Trump did after Iran launched missiles at an American military base, trivializes the care that they urgently need, for the sake of political expediency.
We have to push for an expansion of resources for food assistance programs to support our veterans. Our veterans should also have opportunities to transition into careers in education and other in-demand occupations.
Eliminating Hate Based Immigration Policies
We are a nation of immigrants. I will stand firm against this administration’s hate-based, race fueled immigration policies. I will not stand for children being separated from their families and locked in cages. I will not scapegoat Muslim refugees or turn away Central Americans who legally apply for asylum at our ports of entry. Instead, we will stay true to the guiding principle that America is a land of freedom and opportunity.
That means we must create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. We must also decrease funding for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and transition those funds to areas we need it the most like education and healthcare. America’s democracy works best when we are true to our values and traditions, which means being a land that welcomes immigrants.
Over the next decade, climate change will force tens of millions of individuals from their homes, creating the largest refugee crisis we have ever seen. Climate change will cause large scale migration, requiring a laser focus on technical assistance and capacity building for displaced individuals within and outside our borders. We need leaders at the federal level who believe in science and will use humane policies when people around the globe are forced to move from their homes or cross borders.
Strengthening Our Democracy
North Carolinians have spent a decade fighting tooth and nail for the strength of democracy. The Electoral Integrity Project released a report in 2019 no longer classifying North Carolina as a full-fledged democracy. Republicans in the general assembly have done everything in their power to suppress our right to vote: targeting African American voters with “surgical precision”, splitting North Carolina A&T State University in half to dilute their voting strength, voter intimidation and retracting voting sites on campuses like WSSU and NCAT. We will not put up with these unconstitutional voter suppression tactics in 2020 and beyond.
We took a major step forward in 2019 when the House of Representatives passed the most comprehensive, far reaching piece of democratic legislation. I would proudly continue that push for bold ideas like automatic voter registration, making Election Day a Federal Holiday, establishing an independent redistricting committee, and curtailing the influence of money in politics. Not only would these policies increase trust in our institutions, but they would also make it easier for politicians to pass common sense legislation unimpeded by narrow special interests.
Advocating for Diplomacy not War
Our nation is at its strongest when we work with our allies to further our mutually beneficial interests. Our fates are intertwined and our destinies are interconnected. I was horrified when the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord and undermined the JCPOA (Iran Deal), and abandoned our Kurdish allies. We have to push for a diplomacy-first foreign policy agenda and invoke the War Powers Act so that no president has the authority to send our troops to battle without the consent of the American people. We must also push for increased aid to countries in need of assistance, like those in Central America, who suffer from instability derived in large part from the War on Drugs and other misguided American interventions.
American power can provide a positive global influence if used with caution. The Trump Administration has departed from the previously bipartisan consensus that the United States should help facilitate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would make it clear that human rights abuses by countries like Saudi Arabia and North Korea have consequences.
Centering LGBTQIA+ Identities
I am so proud of North Carolina A&T State University and the trailblazers who put in the work in opening a new LGBTA resource center for students — designed to provide a space for community, support services, and education. LGBTQIA+ folks in North Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District deserve more than a promise to push for equality. When our LGBTQ+ youth regularly experience discrimination and harassment, we have a duty to not only create an environment where every child is accepted, but also center LGBTQ+ identities in our education, work, and community spaces. That’s why I support legislation that protects LGBTQ+ youth from harmful practices that seek to change a child’s identity.
No one’s rights should be determined by what state they live in. That’s why it’s imperative we pass the Equality Act now. We have to have federal laws that explicit declare non-discrimination practices for LGBTQIA+ people , especially in the most crucial areas of life like housing, education, employment etc. We cannot talk about matters of injustice without mentioning the murder of Black trans women in North Carolina and throughout the country. Our lack of ability to protect some of the most marginalized folks among us, Black trans women and gender non-conforming folks, is a disgrace. Our goal is to protect marginalized communities, bring about equity, support, and provide safe spaces.
There is only one African-American woman under the age of forty in Congress out of 535 members. This should concern every American because representation matters. Inclusive representation creates stronger, better policies that move all of us forward. Our representatives bodies must resemble and understand the every-day issues of those they are trusted to represent. The 6th District is the home of progress — we were a stop on the underground railroad, we birthed the student-led civil rights sit-ins and now we have a chance to make history by sending a new, bold and diverse voice to Congress. This is our time to further our progress and to protect our values. As Shirley Chisholm taught us, this campaign is our folding chair.
There is a lot at stake for our district in this election. We need a leader who’s clear on the issues and who has the courage and conviction to stand up for our people and our issues. It is time to harness our power and make real, transformative change for North Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District.