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Joe Biden Names First Black, Openly LGBTQ White House Press Secretary

White House Press Jean-Pierre
Jean-Pierre gives her first White House press briefing on May 26, 2021. Credit: White House/Public Domain

President Joe Biden on Thursday chose Karine Jean-Pierre as the next White House Press Secretary—the first Black and the first openly LGBTQ+ individual to serve as the public face of a United States administration.

Jean-Pierre will take over from Jen Psaki, who is set to leave the post on May 13th. Psaki, who is of Greek heritage, is said to be in talks with MSNBC to join the network after she leaves the White House.

The 44-year-old had been serving as deputy press secretary since Biden took office.

Jean-Pierre also worked on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and in President Barack Obama’s White House.

“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

Psaki, who had said from the outset that she would step down during Biden’s term, praised her successor, calling Jean-Pierre a “partner in truth.”

Jean-Pierre “will be the first Black woman, the first out LGBTQ+ person to serve in this role,” said Psaki.

“Representation matters and she is going to give a voice to so many and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big,” Psaki said.

Jean-Pierre, who was offered the job at an Oval Office meeting earlier on Thursday, said she was “still processing” the significance of being chosen for the role.

Jean-Pierre: A “historic moment” to become White House press secretary

“This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” she said. “It’s a very emotional day.”

On being asked what message she had for the youth of the country, Jean-Pierre said: “If you are passionate about what you want to be, where you want to go, and you work very hard [for] that goal, it will happen.”

“You’ll be knocked down and you’ll have some tough times and it won’t be easy all the time but the rewards are pretty amazing, especially if you stay true to yourself,” she added.

As of 2020, Jean-Pierre lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.

In an interview regarding her work as an openly-gay staffer in the Obama White House, she said: “What’s been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many. President Obama didn’t hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT.”

She added: “Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”

Jean-Pierre’s first book, Moving Forward, was published in 2019. It is described by WJLA as “part memoir, part call to arms,” in which she recounts her personal and professional life and encourages people to become involved in politics.

Before Jean-Pierre, only one other Black woman, Judy Smith, had been deputy White House press secretary, in George H. W. Bush’s administration in 1991.

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