A DAY OF FIRSTS: CELEBRATING THE 102 PIONEERS OF THE AMERICAN CONGRESS

It was a historic day of firsts in Washington D.C. as the U.S’ most inclusive Congress party was sworn into office. Among the historic class of people who took the oath of office in the US House of Representatives on Thursday are the first Native American women, the first Muslim women, the first black women elected from Massachusetts and Connecticut, the first Hispanic women elected from Texas, and the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. A record 102 women were sworn into Congress, 35  of whom were elected for the first time in November in a historic wave of success for female candidates, defining it as a pivotal moment for the American state and subsequently, the rest of the world.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi

 

I say to women all the time, “This is not a zero-sum game. One woman’s success is not subtracting from anybody else’s opportunity. It’s the reverse. Every woman’s success helps other women.”Nancy Pelosi, for ELLE.

 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

 

As a follow-up from last year’s surge of female empowerment and socio-political awakening, this memorable event marks a strong beginning to sealing the deal for women to be adequately represented in 2019. For most, this is a huge triumph in the decades-old quest by our female forebears for a more equal world and it is almost surreal to say that it is already happening. Garnering amazing support from family, friends, and women around the world, these extraordinary team of women took their oaths in an atmosphere of global harmony as this vital step is considered a major victory for all.

Rep. Ilhan Omar being sworn in.

 

Nancy Pelosi reclaimed her former title as speaker of the House. She is one of few elected officials to ever regain the gavel and the first for more than 50 years. Ilhan Omar, an incoming Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, swore the oath of office on her grandfather’s Qur’an. In an Instagram post, her father recounted the family’s journey from a refugee camp in Kenya to the US, where they first arrived at an “airport in Washington DC”.

“I could never have dreamed that 23 years later I would return to the same airport with my daughter Ilhan by my side, the day before she is to be sworn in as the first Somali-American elected to the United States Congress,” he wrote.

 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her sons.

Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women to be elected, selected one very special outfit for the occasion: a Palestinian thobe. The hashtag #TweetYourThobe has been trending on social media since she made her Congress appearance in the special outfit, with many inspired by her dedication to her heritage and the honor of her legacy. It was indeed beautiful to see her young sons dabbing as she was sworn in. In all, it was a beautiful celebration of positivity, change, and new beginnings quite unlike what politics typically poses to be. This poignant occasion bodes more than good for the immediate future and we can’t wait to see all the difference that more women will make.

“I think of it is a responsibility,” Pelosi told Today when asked how she felt about being the most powerful woman in Washington. “I don’t think of it as an accomplishment … This isn’t breaking a glass ceiling – this is breaking a marble ceiling in the Capitol of the United States.”

 

Lauren Underwood, the youngest black woman to serve in Congress

 

More than anything, this is welcome pressure on women to achieve the impossible, starting with the pending problem of America’s government shutdown. With an incredible surge of firsts as demonstrated yesterday, this will probably be an easier feat for the American Congress’ new members who have already proven that anything is possible. Here’s to a year of historic firsts!

Abiodun Odusola
abiodunodusola@ymail.com
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