On Wednesday, Karine Jean-Pierre became the first openly gay woman and the second Black woman to address reporters from the White House briefing room.
Jean-Pierre, who is principal deputy press secretary for the Biden administration, took the podium to announce the confirmation of two women of color to administration posts: Kristen Clarke, who on Monday was confirmed as the first woman to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the first Black person confirmed to lead Medicare and Medicaid.
Jean-Pierre also spoke of the President’s upcoming visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Black Wall Street massacre, the President’s planned proposal to invest $213 billion in housing infrastructure, and his request for intelligence services “to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” regarding the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan in 2019.
The last time a Black woman briefed reporters in the James S. Brady Briefing Room was in 1991, when Judy Smith, deputy press secretary for the first President Bush, took the podium. Smith was the inspiration behind the character of Olivia Pope in the hit show, “Scandal.”
When asked by a reporter if she could reflect on the historic nature of her briefing, Jean-Pierre said that while she could appreciate its significance, “being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person; it’s about, you know, what we do on behalf of the American people.”
She also added that “Clearly, the President believes in ‘representation matters,’ and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity. And it’s another reason why I think we are all so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”
Jean-Pierre was named to the President’s communications team back in December. Prior to that, she served as senior campaign advisor to Biden and as chief of staff for Kamala Harris after Biden picked her as his running mate.
As principal deputy press secretary, she has previously given informal press briefings aboard Air Force One.