White House history was made on May 26, when principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre became the first openly gay person to lead the White House press briefing. She was also the first Black woman in 30 years to step behind the podium in the James S. Brady briefing room.
A few questions into the briefing, reporters asked her about her historic moment at the podium.
“It’s a real honor to be standing here today,” Jean-Pierre said. “I appreciate the historic nature. I really do. But I believe that … being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person. It’s about what we do on behalf of the American people.”
Jean-Pierre, who is the second Black woman in history to hold the daily press briefing, expressed her gratitude to President Joe Biden and his commitment to creating a more diverse administration.
“Clearly, the president believes representation matters,” Jean-Pierre said. “It’s another reason why I think we are so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”
The first Black woman in history to hold the daily press briefing was Judy Smith, who did so in 1991 while serving as President George H.W. Bush’s deputy press secretary. Like many others, Smith took to Twitter to congratulate Jean-Pierre.
“I might have been the first, but so glad I’m not the last!” Smith wrote in the caption alongside a photograph of the two women. “Congrats, @KJP46, on leading the White House briefing room today. So proud of you!”
— Judy Smith (@JudySmith_) May 26, 2021
Although Biden has been criticized for not appointing enough Latinos and Asian Americans in high-level roles, he has pledged to staff his White House and administration with people who reflect the nation’s diversity.
“I promise you, you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet representative of all folks, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, across the board,” he said in December 2020 during his transition to the presidency, The Hill reported.
Biden’s cabinet is more gender-balanced and racially diverse than any that came before him. Almost half are women, and half identify as Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American or multiracial.