via a screenshot

Meet Deja Foxx. Local high school student. Teen advocate. Future leader.

She's the 17-year-old University High School junior who so eloquently stood up and asked Sen. Jeff Flake what gives him the right to take away her rights at a town hall in Mesa last week. She was speaking out against Flake's stance on Planned Parenthood and Title X.

Foxx stood at the mic in Mesa and said, "So I’m a young woman and you’re a middle-aged man. (Flake: “Ouch”). I’m a person of color and you’re white.

"I come from a background of poverty and I didn’t always have parents to guide me through life. You come from privilege. So I’m wondering, as a Planned Parenthood patient and someone who relies on Title X, who you are clearly not, why it’s your right to take away my right?”

She continued to talk but it was drowned out by cheering.

You can see their exchange in the original video below, posted to Facebook by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. It has since rocketed around the internet, making it to national news outlets like CNN and the Washington Post. 

This wasn't her first time taking on the establishment and it won't be her last.

Last year she was part of a campaign to get Tucson Unified School District to update its sex education offerings, asking for curriculum that addresses the emotional aspect of sex, healthy relationships, boundaries and respect for self and others. 

She often speaks out at public events and is part of a Planned Parenthood team here in Tucson.

We chatted with her to see how she stays so composed and what fuels her political passions.

Why are you so passionate about Planned Parenthood and Title X?

I see Planned Parenthood as an equalizing force in our community, especially because there are so many people from diverse backgrounds and low-income communities. The services they provide are conducive to those groups.

Access to contraceptives and things covered by Title X and available at Planned Parenthood allows women in our communities to be more successful.

Young women leaders need a fair shot to realize their potential.   

When did you start advocacy work?

I think I've always been an activist and have an eye for things that aren't fair. I think my first campaign was a conference on sex ed and organizing my peers on a community level.

I'm working to expand that to see the larger machine that is working to do the same things. 

How were you so composed when you spoke out against Sen. Jeff Flake's position on these issues?

I do speak often at public events and on behalf of my school, but more than that I know the image that I'm trying to present. I want to represent my community with pride and composure. For the young women, the brown women, the people that come from low-income communities to see me as a role model, articulate, a critical thinker. I just really want to be a good role model.

And I have experience with leadership training. It's a combination of great training and the need to tell my story in a way that is representative of the community I come from. 

What other interests do you have? 

I do a lot of advocacy work and it takes up a lot of my time. But, I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend and his family and my friends and the Planned Parenthood team that we've built here. 

I do yoga. That's some self-care I do. 

I plan to go to college out of state, so spending time with the people I really care about.

What are you plans for the future? 

I'm hoping to go to Columbia for political science and from there... community organizing is where my passion is but i want to take that one step further and be an elected official.

I think you have to be a part of the system to change it from within. I want to be the voice of the diverse population. I'd like to be president one day. I think it's a goal that not enough women have.

To be the best I can be and represent as many people as possible and do it in a way that represents my community. 

I think it's completely fair to shoot to be president of the United States one day.

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson