Political trailblazer Karine Jean-Pierre tipped to be first-ever Black and LGBT+ White House press secretary

Reiss Smith
·3-min read

Karine Jean-Pierre could become the first out lesbian and first Black woman to be named White House press secretary.

The political heavyweight served as Kamala Harris’ chief of staff during the Biden-Harris campaign, and has now been tipped for a permanent role in the new administration.

NBC’s White House correspondent Geoff Bennett tweeted Wednesday (18 November) that Jean-Pierre has “emerged as a top candidate” for press secretary, citing multiple sources.

Symone Sanders, TV pundit and a senior advisor to the campaign “has also been discussed” for the role, he added.

“No final decisions have been made, officials stress, as the emerging West Wing leadership also considers how to structure the communications office in a rapidly-changing media environment,” Bennett added.

Were Karine Jean-Pierre to clinch the role, she would be the first Black woman in the role as well as the first out LGBT+ press secretary.

Many will recognise her from a viral video in which she jumped to protect Harris after an animal rights activist attempted to grab her microphone during a campaign event in 2019.

Kamala Harris Karine Jean-Pierre
Karine Jean-Pierre and Kamala Harris (Miikka Skaffari/Getty)

A seasoned campaigner, activist and strategist, she has previously worked on presidential campaigns for John Edwards, Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama.

She also served on Obama’s White House staff as a regional political director, and was hired to Harris’ team in August, becoming the first Black person to serve as a presidential candidate’s chief of staff.

She is well-known as a political pundit thanks to numerous appearances on NBC News and MSNBC, and has long been a vocal advocate for LGBT+ rights and equality.

Karine Jean-Pierre fought Trump for the sake of her daughter.

In 2011 she spoke about her experiences working in politics as an openly gay woman.

Shortly after she left her position in the Obama administration, she told The Advocate: “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.

“Serving and working for president Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honour.

“It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that priorities LGBT issues,” she added.

Jean-Pierre shares a daughter, Soleil, with her partner, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux. She has credited Soleil with keeping her in politics after the disappointment of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win.

I want her to know that I didn’t say silent.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do after Hilary lost,” she told Shondaland.

“At that time, my daughter was two and the only president she knew was Obama, she’s even met him a few times. But when she’s 12, or whenever she learns about the president and wonders how this man got elected, she’s going to ask me, ‘What were you doing at the time?’

“And I want her to know that I fought and worked for an organisation that mobilised hundreds and thousands of people to do calls to actions and to get involved. I want her to know that I didn’t say silent.”