minorities voting at voting booth

2020 Election Brings a Number of Historic Wins for Diversity

While results of the Presidential election remain in question, there were still a number of positive advancements in other areas that are definitely worth celebrating. Among them:

  • Delaware elected the first transgender state senator in U.S. history. Sarah McBride, a well-known LGBTQ advocate, defeated Republican Steve Washington to represent Delaware’s 1st Senate District, which covers Bellefonte, Claymont and parts of Wilmington. “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” McBride tweeted after results of her election were announced. 

  • Historic wins for trans individuals also took place in Vermont, Kansas and New York among other locations. In Vermont, Taylor Small won a spot on the state’s House of Representatives, becoming the state’s first openly transgender legislator. In Kansas, Stephanie Byers’ victory made her the first openly transgender candidate ever elected to the Kansas state House as well as the first openly trans Native American ever elected to U.S. state legislature.

  • Parolees in California who were convicted of felonies will once again have the right to vote in elections, following the passage of the state’s Prop. 17, which will change the state’s constitution in their favor. The measure restores the vote to some 50,000 individuals, the Los Angeles Times reported. Potential new vice president Kamala Harris was a strong supporter of the bill.
  • Marijuana legalization wins big across the country. Recognizing the thousands of unnecessary arrests — which occur at four times the rate for Blacks vs whites — plus the billions spent on policing marijuana across the country, it’s no surprise more and more states are working to legalize the drug. Tuesday’s election continued that trend with Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi legalizing some form of marijuana use, Mother Jones has reported. (Oregon went one step further and decided that small amounts of harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin were also no longer punishable by jail time.) “The success of these initiatives proves definitively that marijuana legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue, but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans — regardless of party politics,” Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said in a statement.
  • LGBTQ representation in politics continues to grow. Kim Jackson and Shevrin Jones will become the first openly LGBTQ senators in their respective home states of Georgia and Florida following strong wins on Tuesday, Nov. 4. In New York, Mondaire Jones won his race for New York’s 17th Congressional District, making him one of the nation’s first openly queer Black congressmen. With the victory of Michele Raynor-Goolsby, Florida has elected its first openly queer Black woman to the House of Representatives. Finally, in New York, Ritchie Torres won his race in the South Bronx; when sworn in as a representative for New York’s 15th district, he will become the first self-described queer Afro-Latino to serve in Congress.

  •  In Mississippi, voters have overwhelmingly decided to overturn a Jim Crow-era type electoral system that “has helped preserve white supremacy in Mississippi politics since the law was enacted in 1890,” according to Democracy Now. The two-step process for selecting statewide officeholders that diluted the Black vote within the state will now be replaced with a system that uses popular vote alone to determine election winners. It’s a big win in the state where Blacks make up nearly 40% of the population.
  • Missouri elects its first Black woman to Congress while New York elects youngest Black ever in state’s history to public office. Representing Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, Cori Bush became the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from the state. Bush, who is a registered nurse and ordained pastor, rose to prominence through her activism and was one of the leading voices for change following the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Meanwhile, in New York, 24-year-old Khaleel Anderson’s victory in his race for a seat in the New York State Assembly makes the Queens native the youngest Black state lawmaker. “I am encouraged that my work as the soon-to-be youngest assembly member in the state and youngest Black assembly member in New York State history will inspire other younger leaders across Assembly District 31 and all of New York,” Anderson said following his win.

  • Women rule the house in New Mexico. The state made headlines for electing its first House delegation comprised entirely of women of color. According to Slate, “Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women in Congress, was reelected for her second term. Yvette Herell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, won her race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District and Teresa Leger Fernandez won her race for the 3rd [Congressional District].” Following her win, Haaland wrote on Twitter that “the people of New Mexico have chosen hope over fear, love over hate [and] community over division.”


D.I. Fast Fact


Number of new employees recently hired by UPS in a single day — dubbed Brown Friday.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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