A Look at the Historic Firsts for Women & People of Color Being Sworn Into Congress Today

A record number of women will join Congress on Thursday — but that's not the only ground-breaking first

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty

A record number of women, 128 in total, will join the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday as the 2019 Congress convenes for the first time — but that’s not the only ground being broken.

These women, 23 in the Senate and more than 100 in the House, are also driving many other milestones, guaranteeing Congress will not look like any other in American history. (As spotted by a CNN reporter, several of the women wore white for the day in an apparent nod to suffragettes.)

Here is a look at some of the firsts.

Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Jim Mone/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The first Muslim women were elected to Congress.

Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, from Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, from Michigan, are claiming this title — and three more between the two of them: Omar is also the first Somali-American and first Muslim former refugee elected, while Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to sit in the House, CNN reports.

Democratic Congressional Candidate In New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Attends Election Night Party
Rick Loomis/Getty

The House gets its youngest member.

Many outlets are calling 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from New York City, the youngest woman elected to Congress, which she is — but she’s also now the youngest person to sit in the House, according to NBC News.

She shocked observers after her democratic socialist campaign toppled incumbent Joe Crowley, a leading figure among Democratic representatives.


The first Native-American women were elected to Congress.

Sharice Davids, of Kansas, and New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, both Democrats, are the first female representatives of Native-American descent.

Davids is also a lesbian — and the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas, according to CNN.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Omar Vega/LatinContent/Getty

The first Latina women were elected to represent Texas.

Texas may be the state in the U.S. with the second-largest Latino population, according to Pew Research Center, but it’s only now getting around to electing women from this community to represent it.

Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will serve in the House of Representatives.

United States Congresswomen Elect Ayanna Pressley victory in the 2018 mid-term elections, Boston, USA - 06 Nov 2018
House Member Elect Orientation, Washington, USA - 15 Nov 2018
Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Connecticut and Massachusetts send their first black women to Congress.

Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley is the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, local outlet WGHB reports, while Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes claims that title for Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.

Election 2018 Senate Blackburn Tennessee, Franklin, USA - 06 Nov 2018
Mark Humphrey/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Election 2018 Senate Arizona Debate, Phoenix, USA - 15 Oct 2018
Matt York/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Tennessee and Arizona see their first female senators.

Republican Marsha Blackburn earned a decisive victory for Tennessee’s open senate seat to become the state’s first woman elected to such a position.

Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, will be both the first female Arizona senator and the legislature’s first openly bisexual member, according to NBC News.

Cindy Hyde-Smith Holds Election Night Event In Tight Senate Runoff Election
Cindy Hyde-Smith. Drew Angerer/Getty

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The first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi.

In the midterms, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith became the first woman elected to Congress in Mississippi, TIME reports.

Trump Border Wall, Washington, USA - 20 Dec 2018
J Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Nancy Pelosi resumes her role as the first (and only) female House speaker.

The California Democrat is set on Thursday to be elected Speaker of the House once again after first winning the title in 2007 and then again in 2009, losing it when Republicans took power in 2011.

To date Pelosi is the first woman to be speaker and the only woman to hold that title repeatedly — arguably making her the most powerful female politician in the country.

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