On November 7, a year after an election that shook our nation, 100 million Americans had the chance to make their voices heard again. After weathering a year full of tragedies and acts of discrimination — from Charlottesville to the Muslim ban to the unthinkable — voters turned out to elect candidates different from the ones who took power last November. In fact, a number of candidates (and, of course, the people who voted for them) actually made history.
Here are 10 candidates elected yesterday who broke barriers of gender, race, and sexual identities.
Tran's parents fled Vietnam as refugees when she was only seven months old. Now, she's the first Asian American woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates
After Jenkins became the first openly transgender African American woman (and only the second openly trans woman) ever elected to public office in the U.S., the Minneapolis city councilwoman told the Washington Post, "I’m really proud to have achieved that status, and I look forward to more trans people joining me in elected office, and all other kinds of leadership roles in our society."
The first openly transgender elected official in Virginia history ran against an incumbent who called himself Virginia's "chief homophobe" and refused to refer to Roem using her correct pronouns during the race.
One of the first two Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. The Peruvian-American former public administrator increased voter turnout in her district by 72 percent and won by a nine-point margin.
Along with Guzman, Ayala becomes one of two of the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. She helped organize the Women's March and was a local president for the National Organization of Women, beat her Republican opponent by almost six percentage points and mobilized 14,000 voters to win.
Even though he was targeted by racist fliers during his campaign, Bhalla became the first Sikh mayor to be elected in the state of New Jersey.
Lyles, who ran on a platform promoting economic and social justice in her city, became the first African American mayor of Charlotte, N.C.
Durkan became not only the first lesbian mayor elected in Seattle, but the first female mayor elected since the 1920s.
Melvin Carter III
Carter, who became the first mayor of color in St. Paul, Minnesota, has said that he has heard from his community how "just seeing somebody who reflects the diversity of this city in the city’s top office just can change what our children see for themselves."
Oliver, who became the first female African-American lieutenant governor in New Jersey last night, was previously the first African-American woman to be elected as Assembly speaker in New Jersey and only the second black female speaker in U.S. history.