Karine Jean-Pierre becomes first Black woman to lead White House press briefing in decades

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary (Photo: Miikka Skaffari, Getty Images for MoveOn)

Karine Jean-Pierre became the first Black woman in decades to lead a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday. 

Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary, made history by also being the first openly gay spokeswoman as she stood behind the podium and answered journalists’ questions. 

“Today is a big day in the press office and @WhiteHouse. My partner in truth–@KJP46 is doing her first full briefing from the podium today making history in her own right,” House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. “But doing her real justice means also recognizing her talent, her brilliance and her wonderful spirit.” 

Judy Smith, deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush, was the first Black woman to do so in 1991 and was the inspiration behind the Olivia Pope character in the hit show “Scandal.” 

Jean-Pierre told reporters she was thankful for the opportunity, but it was not solely about her. 

“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 told reporters. “Clearly the President believes representation matters and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity.”  

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This came a day after Kristen Clarke was confirmed as the Justice Department’s civil rights chief, making her the first Black woman to fill the high-profile role that’s in charge of investigating police abuses and enforcing voting rights laws and federal statutes prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, religion and other factors.

Jean-Pierre is a potential candidate for Psaki’s position after she announced her plan to resign and leave the White House next year.  

Jean-Pierre worked on former President Barrack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 and served as the Chief of Staff for Kamala Harris during Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.  

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