The 116th Congress elected in 2018 contained the most diverse class of lawmakers in history, with the latest midterm cycle offering opportunities for historic firsts for black lawmakers in the next Congress. Meanwhile, several black candidates were also elected as top officers in their states.
The number of black lawmakers in Congress has increasingly grown over the last few years, making up about 13% of the House. Those numbers are significantly lower in the Senate, where only three senators are black.
Since the beginning of the Reconstruction era, only seven black senators and two black governors have been elected across the country. At least 28 states have elected a black representative to Congress, and there are currently 56 black lawmakers in the House.
Here’s a breakdown of the history made by black candidates on election night:
Wes Moore elected first black governor of Maryland
Political newcomer Wes Moore (D) won the Maryland governor’s race, defeating Republican state Del. Dan Cox to flip the mansion blue and establish himself as the state’s first black governor.
Despite never holding office before, Moore has emerged as a rising star in the Democratic Party, racking up a number of high-profile endorsements in his gubernatorial bid. He quickly become a favorite among high-profile Democrats, with many comparing the political newbie to former President Barack Obama as a defense to attacks that the 44-year-old is too inexperienced to be elevated to the Senate.
Moore even caught the eye of President Joe Biden, who praised the Democratic candidate while stumping for him on the campaign trail.
Summer Lee becomes first black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania
Democrat Summer Lee defeated Republican businessman Mike Doyle to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th District, becoming the first black woman to be elected to Congress from the Coal State.
Her victory marks a major boost for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, promoting stances to expand access to abortion and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal Medicaid funds from being used for abortions.
Anthony Brown becomes Maryland’s first black attorney general
Democrat Anthony Brown made history after being elected Maryland’s first black attorney general, defeating Republican Michael Peroutka and completing a Democratic sweep of all the state’s top leadership positions.
Brown’s victory marks the first time he’s won a statewide election since losing to Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) in 2014, later running and being elected to represent Maryland’s 4th District.
“Tonight, our state showed the country what Maryland’s values are all about. We reject hate, conspiracies, and division,” Brown said in a statement. “We embrace our differences and see each of our neighbors as deserving of respect.”
Maxwell Frost makes history as first Gen-Z lawmaker
Democrat Maxwell Frost defeated Republican Calvin Wimbish in Florida’s 10th District race, becoming the first member of Generation Z to be elected to Congress.
Frost, a 25-year-old Afro Latino, will replace Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who ran for Senate against incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) instead of seeking reelection in the House. Frost received an endorsement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and key progressive politicians, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).