President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that Karine Jean-Pierre will replace outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki next week, marking the first time in U.S. history a Black and openly LGBTQ+ person has held the position. Jean-Pierre has been the deputy press secretary since 2021 and, when she first led a briefing in May 2021, became the LGBTQ+ person and the first Black woman in 30 years to lead a White House briefing.
“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’s statement read in part. Her tenure will begin on May 14, following Psaki’s reported departure for a rumored role at MSNBC.
Born in Fort-de-France, Martinique, Jean-Pierre began her rise in the Democratic Party as a regional director for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. After spending the Trump years as an analyst for NBC and spokesperson for the liberal advocacy group MoveOn, Jean-Pierre joined the Biden campaign as Kamala Harris’s chief of staff in 2020. She is married to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and the two live in Washington, D.C. with their daughter Soleil.
“The White House Press Secretary represents the voice of the President of the United States and the American people, and for the first time in our nation’s history, that voice will be the voice of a person who is both Black and openly same-gender loving,” said Dr. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, in a statement Thursday. “Make no mistake — at a time Black people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are under attack — having a strong, openly Black same-gender loving woman as the voice of the White House and our nation sends a clear signal to all – that our nation is better when we embrace who we are.”
Last year, reflecting on the importance of her place behind the podium, Jean-Pierre candidly told reporters that although representation is important, the real work is still ahead.
“I appreciate the historic nature,” she said at the time, “but I believe that being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person. It’s about what we do on behalf of the American people.”