While America has had a black President for the last four years, the makeup of Congress was still not reflective of the diversity of the country. But things started to change with this past election. As the Senate and House of Representatives were officially sworn in this week, there was a marked and noticeable difference.
There are 82 freshman House members and 12 new Senators, including four African Americans, five Asian Americans, 10 Latinos, and 24 women. Another dramatic shift: white males no longer make up the majority of House Democrats. Another milestone: “Rep. Tim Scott was named to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, making him the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction,” reports HuffPo.
There are many other firsts for the new Congress: the first Hindu (Rep. Tulsi Gubbard, D-Hawaii) to serve in either the House or Senate; Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the first Buddhist Senator; Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate; and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the first openly bisexual congresswoman. Sinemais also the first member of Congress to identify herself as “religiously-unaffiliated.”