History of Women of Color in U.S. Politics

For a quick list of "firsts" for women of color in politics, visit our Milestones for Women in American Politics timeline page

U.S. Senate

Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL), a Black woman, was the first woman of color elected to the US Senate, serving from 1993-1999. Mazie Hirono, an Asian Pacific Islander, was elected in 2012 and is currently serving. Three women; Tammy Duckworth (D-IL, Asian Pacific Islander), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV, Latina) and Kamala Harris (D-CA, Black and South Asian) were elected in 2016.

Black – 1 (1D)
Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL)        1993-1999

Asian Pacific Islander – 2 (2D)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)                  2013-Present
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)          2017-Present

Latina – 1 (1D)
Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) 2017-Present

Multiracial – 1 (1D)
Kamala Harris (D-CA)                 2017-Present

U.S. House of Representatives

Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI), an Asian Pacific Islander, was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1965-77 and again from 1990-2002. The first Black woman elected to the House was Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), who served from 1969-83. The first Latina elected to the House was Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), who was elected in 1989 and remains in office. 
 
A total of 59 women of color have served in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to the women currently serving (listed here), they are:
Black – 18 (18D)
Shirley Chisholm (D-NY)
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-CA)
Barbara Jordan (D-TX)
Cardiss Collins (D-IL)
Katie Hall (D-IN)
Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI)
Eva M. Clayton (D-NC)
Carrie Meek (D-FL)
Denise Majette (D-GA)
Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
Corrine Brown (D-Fl)
Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA)
Julia Carson (D-IN)
Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)

1969-83
1973-79
1973-79
1973-97
1982-85
1991-97
1992-2003
1993-2003
2003-2005
1993-2003; 2005-07
1993-2017
1996-2007
1996-2007
1999-2008
        
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Diane Watson (D-CA)
Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
 
Asian Pacific Islander – 4 (3D, 1R)
Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI)       
Patricia Fukuda Saiki (R-HI)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Latina – 3D            
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Hilda Solis (D-CA)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA)

1997-2011
2001-2011
2007-2013
2008-2017


1965-77; 1990-2002
1987-91
2007-2013
2013-2017


1997-2017
2001-2009
2013-2015

Statewide Elective Executive Offices

One woman of color currently serves as governor, and four have been lieutenant governors. 

Black – 11 (6D, 5R)
Velvalea "Vel" Phillips (D-WI)
Pamela Carter (D-IN)
Vikki Buckley (R-CO)
Denise Nappier (D-CT)
Karen Freeman-Wilson (D-IN)
Jennette Bradley (R-OH)
Jennette Bradley (R-OH)
Velda Jones Potter (D-DE)
Sandra D. Kennedy (D-AZ)
Jennifer Carroll (R-FL)
Jenean Hampton (R-KY)

Asian Pacific Islander – 7 (5D, 2R)
March Fong Eu (D-CA)
Jean Sadako King (D-HI)
Cheryl Lau (R-NV) 
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Mona Pasquil (D-CA)
Nikki Haley (R-SC)
Betty Yee (D-CA)

Latina – 13 (10D, 3R)
Soledad Chacon (D-NM)
Margaret Baca (D-NM)
Clara Padilla Jones (D-NM)
Patricia Madrid (D-NM)
Rebecca Vigil-Giron (D-NM)
Mary Herrera (D-NM)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Susan Castillo (D-OR)
Dianna Duran (R-NM)
Susana Martinez (R-NM)
Nellie Gorbea (D-RI)
Evelyn Sanguinetti (R-IL)
Susanna Mendoza (D-IL)

Native American – 1 (D)
Denise Juneau (D-MT)

Multi-racial – 1 (D)
Kamala Harris (D-CA)


Sec. of State
Atty. General
Sec. of State
St. Treasurer
Atty. General
Lt. Governor
St. Treasurer
St. Treasurer
Corp. Comm.
Lt. Governor
Lt. Governor


Sec. of State
Lt. Governor
Sec. of State
Lt. Governor
Acting Lt. Gov.
Governor
St. Controller


Sec. of State
Sec. of State
Sec. of State
Atty. General
Sec. of State
Sec. of State
Atty. General
Supt. Pub. Instr.
Sec. of State
Governor
Sec. of State
Lt. Governor
St. Controller


Supt. Pub. Instr.


Atty. General


1979-1983
1993-1999
1995-1999
1999-present
2000-2001
2003-2005
2005-2007
2009-2011
2008-2012
2011-2013
2015-present


1975-1993
1979-1982
1991-1995
1995-2003
2010-2010
2011-2017
2015-present


1923-1926
1931-1934
1983-1986
1999-2007
1987-1990; 1999-2007
2007-2011
2007-2015
2003-2012
2010-2015
2011-present
2015-present
2015-present
2017-present


2009-2017


2011-2017

State Legislatures

The first women of color to serve in state legislatures, listed in chronological order, were:
Black       

                   
Asian Pacific Islander   

Latina   


Native American 
Minnie Buckingham Harper (R-WV House) appointed 1929
Crystal Dreda Bird Fauset (D-PA House) elected 1938

Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI Senate) elected 1962

Fedelina Lucero Gallegos (R-NM House) elected 1930
Porfirria Hidalgo Saiz (D-NM House) elected 1930

Cora Belle Reynolds Anderson (R-MI House) elected 1924

(Information from Elizabeth M. Cox, Women State and Territorial Legislators, 1895-1995, McFarland & Company, Inc., 1996.)

State Legislative Leadership

State senator Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) was the first woman of color and the first Asian Pacific Islander woman to lead either house of a state legislature; she served as Hawaii's Senate president from 2007-2011. Karen Bass (D-CA) was the first woman of color and first Black woman to serve as a House speaker, leading California's Assembly from 2008-2010. Crisanta Duran (D-CO) is the first Latina to serve as a House Speaker, assuming that office in 2017.

Mayors

Women of color who have served as mayors in the nation’s 100 largest cities are:
Black      
Lottie Shackleford
Carrie Saxon Perry
Sharon Pratt Kelly
Sharon Sayles Belton 
Shirley Franklin 
Sheila Dixon      
Yvonne Johnson
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 
Muriel Bowser
Paula Hicks-Hudson
Ivy Taylor
Catherine Pugh
Sharon Weston Broome
London Breed (acting)
Vi Alexander Lyles


Little Rock, AR
Hartford, CT
Washington, DC
Minneapolis, MN
Atlanta, GA
Baltimore, MD
Greensboro, NC
Baltimore, MD
Washington, DC
Toledo, OH
San Antonio, TX
Baltimore, MD
Baton Rouge, LA
San Francisco, CA
Charlotte, NC


1987-1991
1987-1993
1991-1995
1994-2001
2001-2009
2007-2010
2008-2010
2010-2016
2015-present    
2015-present
2015-2017
2016-present
2017-present
2017-present
2017-present

Asian Pacific Islander 
Eunice Sato
Jean Quan 
Lily Mei

Latina
Heather Fargo 
Nelda Martinez
Mary Casillas Salas


Long Beach, CA
Oakland, CA
Fremont, CA

 
Sacramento, CA
Corpus Christi, TX
Chula Vista, CA


1980-1982
2011-2015
2016-present

 
2001-2009
2014-2016
2015-present