The 2020 elections resulted in many historic first-elected women and minorities rising to positions in the United States government. We’ll look at just a few of the many groundbreaking firsts.
Slowly but surely, America’s diversity is being reflected more in our elected positions –at last!
First-Elected Woman and Woman of Color Vice President
Most notably, Kamala Harris will become the first woman vice president and the first woman of color vice president. Her mother was Indian, and her father is Jamaican. Thus, she’s also the first Black woman, Indian-American woman, and daughter of immigrants to be vice president. In the VP’s role, she will have reached any woman’s highest position in US history, shattering a glass ceiling.
In 2017, Harris became the first South Asian-American senator in US history and the second African-American woman elected to the senate. Before this, she was the first Black female attorney general of California.
Vice President-elect Harris is a powerful and inspirational speaker who connects with people of all walks of life. For one example, here’s what she said during a speech at Spelman College in 2018:
“My mother used to tell me – she would tell my sister – my mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,'” Harris said. “And that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”
The First ‘Second Gentleman’
Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband, will become America’s first-elected second gentleman. Also, he’ll be the first Jewish spouse, of any gender, for the presidency or vice presidency. Both Harris and Emhoff are 56 and met on a blind date set up by a friend. Less than a year later, he proposed. Recently, he described seeing Harris for the first time as “love at first sight” on Instagram.
Emhoff has two adult children, Cole and Ella, from a previous marriage, who call Harris “Momala.”
One child, 9-year-old Atticus, asked, “What would you do if your wife became vice president?”
Emhoff indicated he would be thrilled and supportive, putting Harris out front before him.
“Well, first, I’d say YAAAYYY!” Emhoff replied. “And then I’m just gonna do what I always do, Atticus, I’m gonna support her. Because it’s really important for men and even young boys to support the strong and wonderful women in their life.”
More about Emhoff from CNN below:
The First Working Teacher as First Lady
Wife, mother, grandmother, and educator with a doctoral degree, Jill Biden will continue working as a professor after Joe Biden assumes the presidency.
Thus, she’ll be the first FLOTUS in 231 years to keep a paying job while living in the White House and serving as the first lady.
In a CBS interview in August, she was asked if she thought she could do it all as First Lady:
“I would love to. If we get to the White House, I’m going to continue to teach,” she said. “I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and to lift up the profession.”
In an earlier Vogue interview, she indicated that education and military families would be top priorities as they were when she was a second lady.
“The beauty of (being FLOTUS) is that you can define it however you want,” she said. “And that’s what I did as second lady – I defined that role the way I wanted it to be. I would still work on all the same issues. Education would be right up there, and military families. I’d travel all over this country trying to get free community college.”
See Jill Biden from NBC News below:
First-Elected Transgender State Senator
In Delaware, Democrat Sarah McBride won to become the first-elected transgender woman state senator. At the same time, she became the highest-ranking openly transgender official in United States history.
In 2012, she became the first out trans intern in the White House. Then, in 2016, she made history as the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party convention for the Democrats. She continues to serve as a national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign before becoming a state senator.
In 2018, McBride published a book, “Tomorrow Will Be Different, Love, Loss, and The Fight for Trans Equality,” which featured a foreword by Joe Biden. It discusses what she learned from her late husband, Andy, who passed away from cancer.
When discussing her coming out story, she says she did so on Christmas in 2011. She was 21 and student body president at American University at the time. She had decided to start living her life fully and started coming out to more friends. On her last day as president, she came out publicly, receiving overwhelming positive support.
“The response I got was so overwhelmingly positive that it demonstrated to me that when we tell our stories, when we’re vulnerable publicly, that’s something that can transcend ideology. It can transcend gender, race, religion, geography, and I think it allows people to enter into a story, an experience that they might have a difficult time empathizing with,” said McBride.
See McBride discuss her coming out story below from BUILD Series:
First Openly Gay Black Men Elected to State Senate
In New York, Democratic socialist Jabari Brisport became New York’s first-elected openly gay Black man to rise to the state senate. He ran unopposed and has been hailed as “the next AOC,” referring to re-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Brisport has served as a public school teacher and is a third-generation Caribbean-American.
“When you are a marginalized person, and you begin fighting for yourself, you begin to see that you want to fight to ensure that no one should feel marginalized that way,” Brisport told The Hill’sDiversity and Inclusion Summit.
Meanwhile, in Florida, another openly gay black man, Democrat Shevrin Jones, also won his bid to serve on the state senate. Jones beat two anti-LGBTQ opponents to win the primary as he and his parents were fighting COVID-19. He previously served in Florida’s House of Representatives for six years.
“Representation matters. Having a seat at the table matters. Showing others that it’s possible is necessary,” Jones Tweeted.
See more about Shevrin Jones via WPLG Local 10:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube