THIS IS AMERICA: Madam VP And The Women Of Color, LGBTQ+ Folks & BIPOC Who Made History In The 2020 Election

Kamala Harris gives her victory speech as Vice President elect, in Delaware on November 7, 2020. Image: CNBC/Youtube

November 3 will forever become an historic moment in American politics. Yes, it was heralded as arguably the most important presidential election of our time, but more than that, it truly was a battle for the soul of our nation, as the Biden/Harris campaign has been saying.

While there are areas where votes are still being counted, let it be known that more votes have been cast in this election than any other presidential election in history. After almost a week of waiting on various counties and states to share tallies, on Saturday November 7 the race was finally called for Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States, with VP Kamala Harris set to make history as the first female, and first Black women to be named Vice President!

On Saturday evening both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris gave victory speeches at an even in Delware, and what the VP-elect said was inspiring and gave us hope for future leadership at the highest level.

“To the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts. When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight, women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy,” said the incoming Vice President from the podium, before adding an inspiring message to the future leaders watching her.

“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”

America isn’t just about who we elect to the White House every four years. The soul of this nation is about the local and state elections, as well as who we send to the US Senate and House of Representatives. There has been a lot of punditry and commentary on the deep divide in America, the red vs blue states, Trump’s America, and so on. But that does not accurately nor fully tell the whole story. While we were certainly elated to hear the news of Biden’s win, it was the news of historic local and state wins that is truly giving us hope about the future of this country. So many young people, people of color and grassroots coalitions organized and did the hard work of making this an historic election for turnout alone.

So we wanted to share some of the historic wins of women, women of color, LGBTQ+ folks and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) who were elected not just in typically progressive or Democratic areas, but in states and districts where many have written off as solidly Republican or conservative. This list is by no means exhaustive, and as votes continue to be counted there will no doubt be more incredible results to report (be sure to follow us on Instagram as we give more updates daily on our stories!). Behold the new political class rising up in America:

First up in our home town of Los Angeles, voters overwhelmingly elected former State Senator Holly J Mitchell (pictured below with Kamala Harris) to the LA County Board of Supervisors, making it an all-female board for the first time in history! Take note: LA County is the largest county in the United States by population.

Kamala Harris and Holly Mitchell, image via Holly Mitchell on Twitter

Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who has spoken openly about formerly being homeless was elected to the US House to represent Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. She is a nurse, a mom, and was an early activist in the BLM movement, leading protests in Ferguson. Cori makes history as the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress.

Delaware’s Sarah McBride, whose race was called on the night of November 3, officially becomes the nation’s first trans state senator. She is now the highest ranking transgender official in the country.

In Vermont, 26 year-old Taylor Small has made history by becoming the state’s first trans legislator!

Mauree Turner has been elected to Oklahoma’s state House, becoming one of the first non-binary state lawmakers in America, and the first Muslim to serve in Oklahoma’s legislature.

Meet Charmine Guffey. She is the new Sheriff in Hamilton County, Ohio. What’s great about her win is that she was once fired by the old Sheriff for being a lesbian. So she decided to run against him and won. On election day 2020, she fired him and gave hope to other LGBTQ people who have been discriminated against.

Over in Hawaii, Kaiali’i Kahele won a US House seat for his state, becoming only the 2nd Native Hawaiian to represent Hawaii in Congress since statehood. He replaces Tulsi Gabbard who decided not to run again for her seat. Kaiali’i is one of a record 6 Indigenous people in Congress. But given there are 535 elected officials altogether in the House and Senate, we hope to see more diversity.

New Mexico has officially become the first state to elect all women of color to the US House! Democratic incumbent Representative Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo Tribe, won reelection to her House seat (she also made history in 2018 as one of the first Native American women elected to Congress). Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez will represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District. She replaces Representative Ben Ray Luján, who won the state’s open Senate seat. And Republican Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee nation, won her challenge against incumbent Democratic Representative Xochitl Torres Small in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

In Georgia, a state that had the nation’s eyes on it’s presidential vote tally thanks to the hard work of Stacey Abrams and her Fair Fight organization which registered over 800,000 new voters and worked to defeat voter suppression, the state legislature saw an important win. Kim Jackson, an Episcopal priest will become only the 3rd openly LGBTQ woman to serve as state senator.

While many people view Florida as a highly contested state when it comes to voting for the president (and it carries bad memories from the 2000 recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore), the state legislature saw some historic progressive wins. Shervin Jones becomes the first openly LGBTQ state senator in Florida’s history, and Michele Raynor becomes the first Black queer woman to enter the state legislature.

Over in Kansas, Stephanie Byers won her election and becomes the first openly transgender individual elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, and the first Native trans person elected to any state legislature.

After fleeing the civil war in Liberia at a young age, Naquetta Ricks moved to Colorado and started her own business. Naquetta was just elected as the first Liberian-American state legislator in the country, reminding us how immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are what makes our country great.

Washington state nurse and lawyer Tarra Simmons becomes the first formerly-incarcerated legislator in Washington. She has previously served on multiple state-level councils, advisory boards and commissions to advocate for reintegration after incarcerations, and ending the school to prison pipeline. This is a big deal not just for Washington, but for all Americans who should take note. America has the highest prison population on the planet and the rates of incarcerated women are now rising faster than men (many of which are disproportionately women of color). We need more policy-making around mass incarceration to be lead by those who have personally been through this system because they can advocate for others and bring a more compassionate, nuanced, people-centered approach to laws.

In Colorado, Iman Jodeh just became the first Muslim person ever to be elected to the Colorado General Assembly. The Palestinian-American and first-generation American in her family is an educator, community activist, and progressive leader.

Odette Ramos makes history as the first Latina on the Baltimore City Council. She is a Puerto Rican community leader and Democratic State Central Committee member who has spent decades fighting for housing justice.

Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones made history for the state of New York by becoming the first openly gay Black men elected to US Congress. Torres became the first openly gay elected official from the Bronx when he was elected to the New York City Council seven years ago at age 25. In June’s congressional primary, he defeated Rubén Diaz Sr., a fellow member of the New York City Council who had a long history of anti-LGBTQ remarks, according to Buzzfeed.

There are currently nine openly LGBTQ members of Congress, including Rep. Mark Takano, who became the first openly gay person of color in Congress when he was elected in 2012, and Rep. Sharice Davids, elected in 2018, who is the first openly gay woman of color in Congress.

As we mentioned earlier, this list is by no means exhaustive and we can’t wait to see more history being made in this election as more results come in, but also in future elections as these diverse elected officials inspire more and more people to run for office.

After winning her race, Delware’s Sarah Mcbride gave a beautiful speech to a small gathering of people at a local restaurant to reiterate what her win means to other LGBTQ+ folks watching, but also as a reminder to anyone what is possible in terms of diversity and leadership. This is the future we are working toward, because this is America:

“It is my fervent hope, that a young person in Delaware or anywhere in this country [is] able to go to sleep tonight with a powerful but simple message: That our democracy is big enough for them too. That their voices matter. And that change is always possible.”