Hakeem Jeffries Unanimously Elected First Black House Leader

November 30, 2022

House Democrats on Wednesday unanimously elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to become the party’s top leader in the chamber beginning in January, making him the first Black American to hold such a high-ranking position in Congress.

In his acceptance speech, Jeffries gave a shout out to outgoing Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whose 2007 ascendancy as the first woman Speaker of the House was also historic.

“I want to convey my thanks to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an extraordinary Speaker for the ages, who has delivered so much for so many over such a significant period of time,” Jeffries said.

The election of Jeffries to House Minority Leader does put two Brooklynites in Democratic Leadership positions. His fellow New York City borough resident, Chuck Schumer, is Senate Majority Leader. 

The ascension of 52-year-old Jeffries is also a passing of the baton from one generation to the next—at least in the House, where 57-year-old Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is hoping to replace 82-year-old Pelosi as Speaker. In the Senate, Schumer is 72, and his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is 80. 

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