White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made history on Wednesday, becoming the first openly gay woman and only the second Black woman to ever lead a White House press briefing.
Answering reporters’ questions from the White House podium on Wednesday, Jean-Pierre said it was a “real honor just to be standing here today” and that she appreciated the “historic nature” of the moment.
“It’s not about one person, it’s about what we do on behalf of the American people,” the deputy press secretary said, adding that “clearly” President Joe Biden “believes that representation matters” and that she was proud to be part of the most diverse administration in U.S. history.
In addition to being the first openly gay spokeswoman to answer reporters’ questions from the podium, Jean-Pierre became the first Black woman in three decades to do so.
The first Black woman ever to lead a White House briefing was Judy Smith, who did so in 1991 as deputy press secretary to former President George H.W. Bush.
On Wednesday, Smith embraced Jean-Pierre in a momentous passing of the baton.
Late last year, Smith told Yahoo News that she “didn’t think” about the historic position she was in “at the time” and was focused on the “incredible opportunity” of working at the White House.
“I didn’t understand the significance of what that was, getting up, briefing at that moment, seeing a Black woman behind the podium, speaking on behalf of the president to the American public,” Smith said.
Smith’s work later inspired the hit Shonda Rhimes TV show “Scandal.”