In Historic First, Three Black Women Led White House Media Briefing
When taking office as president, Joe Biden pledged to make government as diverse as the American population, which he believed would be better for policy and governance. In an historic first, three Black women, Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) , Cecilia Rouse, Head of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), and Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s Press Secretary, led a briefing at the White House.
While fielding questions from the media, the briefing included a wide range of subjects, including economic policies under the Biden administration, the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and federal initiatives to address systemic racism and inequality.
Especially as the country continues to struggle with issues of racial and social injustice, the appointment of these women by Biden, who has appointed more Black women than any other president, marks a watershed moment in the nation's history. Their presence is an indicator that Biden has kept his campaign promise to appoint and recommend more Black women to essential roles to establish a more inclusive American society.
“I do want to take a moment to note the historic nature of the moment that you see in front of you right now,” said Jean-Pierre. “All three of us are historic firsts in our roles: the first Black woman to serve as CEA chair, OMB Director, [and] White House Press Secretary.
“Now that did not happen by accident,” she continued. “It is thanks to this president, President Biden’s leadership and commitment to building an administration full of the best and the brightest. And I am so proud to be standing with two of the best and the brightest in this administration.”
Biden, who counts the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and the election of Vice President Kamala Harris as his successes in improving racial and gender representation and diversity in positions of power, has a total of six Black women in his presidential cabinet.
After a lengthy career in government, including as the staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, Young was confirmed earlier this year to lead the Office of Management and Budget. As the Dean of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, eminent economist and scholar Rouse has lead the Council of Economic Advisers beginning in 2021. As the current White House Press Secretary since 2021, Jean-Pierre is a seasoned political strategist who has worked as the Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn.org and as a Senior Adviser for President Biden's 2020 campaign.
While recognizing the importance of recognizing the milestone, but also recognizing the improvements still to be made, Rouse said, "We are here today because of the work of so many who came before us, who fought for equality and justice and paved the way for people like us to be able to stand here today."