The most diverse class of Congresspersons in United States history was sworn in today.
Among the new diversity marks set by this Congress include a record number of women, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the first woman to wear a hijab while serving in Congress, the first Muslim-American, the first Native American, the first open members of the LGBTQ community, and a former MMA fighter, according to the Independent.
Over 100 female House members were sworn in, along with 25 members under the age of 40, according to CBS News.
Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar will be the first Somali-American in Congress, one of the first Muslim women to serve, and the first to wear a hijab as House Democrats change the rules on headwear. Omar, a Somali refugee who immigrated to the United States in 1995, celebrated her accomplishments with a heartfelt Twitter message on Wednesday night.
“23 years ago, from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC,” she tweeted. “Today, we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali-American in Congress.”
Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib will join Omar as the first Muslim-American women to serve in Congress. Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, was sworn with former President Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran and wore a traditional Palestinian gown during the ceremony.
“My swearing in on the Quran is about me showing that the American people are made up of diverse backgrounds and we all have love of justice and freedom. It’s important to me because a lot of Americans have this kind of feeling that Islam is somehow foreign to American history,” she said. “Muslims were there at the beginning. Some of our founding fathers knew more about Islam than some members of Congress now.”
New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has aggressively promoted progressive policies before even entering Congress, will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez has already made a splash with her expert use of social media, using her Instagram platform to take her followers behind the scenes during her Congressional orientation.
Deb Haaland of New Mexico joins Sharice Davids as the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Davids, a Kansas Democrat and former MMA fighter, will be the first open member of the LGBTQ community to represent her state in Congress. Davids leads a number of other firsts at the state level. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut will be the first black women to represent their respective state in Congress, while Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be the first Latina representatives for the state of Texas.
Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will not only be the state’s first female Senator, but also Arizona’s first openly bisexual Senator. She is joined as the first woman elected to the Senate from her state by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, and Cindy Hyde-Smith became Mississippi’s first woman elected to Congress, according to CNN.
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