The Black Member-Elects in Congress That Made History

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman, and woman of color to be elected to such a high position in the white house. Harris will become the first Black woman and Indian-American to ever become Vice President, breaking barriers and sending a message that change is possible. This year’s elections also showed a record number of Black candidates running and winning positions. So let us learn a bit more about the candidates that have made history in Congress.

Cori Bush (D)- Missouri 1st Congressional District

Congresswoman-Elect Cori Bush made history when she became the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri’s 1st congressional district in congress. Bush had already defied the odds in the Democratic primaries when she defeated Rep. William Clay who with his father, Rep. William Clay Sr, represented the district for over 50 years. Rep-Elect Cori Bush since being elected is already emerging as a star, continuing to use her voice to advocate policies important to her. Bush ran her campaign on policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare For All which she has continued to push for. Bush was also an active community leader and a veteran Black Lives Matter activist who was compelled to act after the shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014.

“As the first Black woman and also the first nurse and single mother to have the honor to represent Missouri in the United States Congress, let me say this: To the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers, this is our moment.”

Ritchie Torres(D)- New York’s 15th Congressional district

Congressman-Elect Ritchie Torres made history after being elected to represent the South Bronx in Congress. Torres is the first openly gay, Afro-Latino member of Congress. Torres won what was considered one of the fiercely contested primaries, and the odds were stacked against him in the elections, though he prevailed. His focuses include public housing, and extending child tax credit to the poorest families to cut child poverty.

In an interview on the podcast Cape Up with Jonathan Capehart, Torres said, “for me, the starting point is public housing — the New York City Housing Authority manages public housing for half a million New Yorkers…the New York City Housing Authority has been so savagely starved of federal funding that it has $40 billion worth of capital needs. There’s an urgent need for new roofs and new boilers, new bricks, and new elevators. There are senior citizens who are freezing during the winter because the boilers keep breaking down; disabled residents who are stranded in their top-floor apartments because the elevators keep breaking down; children who have been poisoned by lead… But these are the human consequences of federal disinvestment from the Black and brown city that is public housing. And so my highest priority is to secure funding for public housing, in order to address the capital need of $40 billion.”

Mondaire Jones (D)- New York’s 17th Congressional District

Congressman-Elect Mondaire Jones was elected to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District. Jones and Congressman-Elect. Ritchie Torres will be the first openly LGBTQ Black members of Congress. He ran on important platforms such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Jones used to work in the U.S Department of Justice under President Barack Obama.

“I’m part of a generation that stands to inherit a planet that’s devastated by climate catastrophe,” Jones said, “for me, there’s no alternative to a Green New Deal. We have to be fighting for a thing that will make our planet inhabitable for ourselves and our children and their children.”

Marilyn Strickland(D)- Washington’s 10th Congressional District

Congresswoman-Elect Marilyn Strickland was elected to represent Washington’s 10th Congressional District. Strickland is the first Black representative from Washington state, and the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress. Strickland was the former Mayor of Tacoma before running for Congress.

In an article by the Hill, Strickland is quoted saying, “[t]he social, political, and economic systems in which we operate have not always welcomed us into positions of power and influence, and that is starting to change.”

Jamaal Bowman(D)- New York’s 16th Congressional District

Congressman-Elect Jamaal Bowman was elected to represent New York’s 16th Congressional District. Bowman ran a campaign that focused on reforming the criminal justice system, Medicare for All, and addressing income inequality. Bowman also comes from an educational background as he was a middle school principal and has been a teacher and public school advocate for over 20 years.

Upon election, Bowman tweeted, “[w]ow. I’m so humbled to be the next representative of #NY16. Thank you so much. I’m ready to get to work to disrupt the status quo and deliver for our families. Hold me accountable. Push me and my colleagues. I’m going to need you in Congress with me. There’s so much work to do.”

Nikema Williams (D) -Georgia’s 5th Congressional District

Congresswoman-Elect Nikema Williams was elected as the first Black woman to serve as representative in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. A district that had been held by the late civil rights icon John Lewis. The late Rep. John Lewis passed away in July, and Williams was selected by county Democrats to run in Lewis’s place. Williams also serves as the chair of the state Democratic Party, the first Black woman to do so. The main focus in her first term is in crafting a national response to the Coronavirus pandemic, passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, addressing child care costs, and rebuilding the economy.

“I am raising my five-year-old son who is in virtual kindergarten right now. … I know at one point, here in my zip code, it was the number one zip code in the state for COVID-19 and 80% of the hospitalizations were Black people. … And then when we look at the people who are out of work from the pandemic … our economy is also impacted, and especially in the Black community. So number one is a national response to this pandemic.”

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