You hear that? It's the sound of glass-ceilings shattering across the US. A record-breaking number of women ran on the 2018 midterm election. According to the New York Times, "more than a quarter of all the candidates running this year are female, including 84 women of colour — a 42% increase from just two years ago." Out of this diverse cohort of candidates, many won big on election night, making history
When running for office, women of colour often face more roadblocks and a lack of institutional support than their white counterparts. But that didn't stop an unprecedented number of candidates of colour from throwing their hats in the ring this election season. Many of them were victorious in their bids, therefore paving the way for upcoming generations to follow their path and helping make our elected officials look a little bit more like the face of America.
Ahead, a look at some of the women of colour who made history this midterm election.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old Democratic socialist from the Bronx, just became one of the two youngest women ever elected to Congress. The congressional candidate for New York's 14th District pulled one of the most stunning upsets in recent history when she defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, a longtime staple of local politics and the fourth-ranking Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, back in the summer. The victory catapulted her to the national stage, with many calling her a political rising star who would change the face of the Democratic party. NY-14 is one of the most liberal districts in the nation, with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans roughly six-to-one. Ocasio-Cortez's Republican challenger, 72-year-old Anthony Pappas, never really stood a chance to defeat her in the general election.
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress. Tlaib, also the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to the House, ran unopposed on Michigan's 13th District candidate. She will fill the seat left by longtime Rep. John Conyers, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Omar, a former refugee, made history in 2016 when she became the first Somali-American legislator in the history of the United States. Now, she is shattering the glass-ceiling once again, after winning the race on Minnesota's left-leaning 5th District. After being sworn-in, the 36-year-old will also be the first Somali-American congresswoman in the nation.
Ayanna Pressley will be the first Black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. The 44-year-old was running unopposed in Massachusetts’ 7th District, after defeating ten-term incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano in the primary in September. Pressley, a Democrat, also made history when she became the first woman of colour to be elected to the Boston City Council.
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be the first Latinas to represent Texas in Congress. Escobar, a former two-term county judge, handily won the race in Texas' 16th District, a Democratic stronghold that hasn't gone red in 55 years. "If you have an expectation for a certain type of governance, you better be able to step up and provide it," she told Refinery29 earlier this year. "You can't depend on somebody else." Garcia, who served in the Texas State Senate from 2013 until this summer, also easily defeated Republican Phillip Aronoff in TX-29.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Indigenous women ever elected to Congress. Davids, 37, defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in Kansas' 3rd District. The former mixed martial arts fighter and White House fellow during the Obama-Trump transition will also be the first openly lesbian congresswoman to represent the state in Capitol Hill. In New Mexico's 1st District, Haaland defeated Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones.
This story has been updated with the latest election results.