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Black Americans made history in Tuesday’s elections

By Jessica Washington —

Black candidates celebrated historic victories in elections across the country Tuesday (Nov. 7), including a few notable firsts.

In Philadelphia, Cherelle Parker became the first woman and first Black woman to win the mayoral election.

In Rhode Island, Gabe Amo became the first Black person to represent the state in Congress.

 In New York City, Exonerated Five member Yusef Salaam went from being wrongfully convicted to a city council member.

Congressman-elect Amo, 35, won a major victory over Republican Gerry Leonard, becoming the first Black candidate elected to Congress from Rhode Island.

Amo is the child of Ghanaian and Liberian Immigrants. He formerly served in the White House as deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama administration.

“For Rhode Island, it’s been interesting to have an immigrant story that everyone can relate to,” Amo said to CBS News. “I’m going to be a voice for making sure we can restore confidence and trust despite the Republican Party that is rife with chaos.”

In Philly, Mayor-elect Parker, 50, easily defeated her Republican opponent, David Oh, to become the city’s 100th mayor. Parker is the first woman and the first Black woman to be elected as mayor, which is pretty wild for a city as old as Philadelphia.

Parker touted her lived experience as a Black woman in Philadelphia while campaigning.

 “That I would put to great use everything inside of me, my lived life experience, my professional experience, my academic preparation, that I would put all of it to great use, and I would make Philadelphia the safest, the greenest big city in the nation with economic opportunity for all,” said Parker at her victory party, according to WHYY.

In New York City, Salaam won his city council election on Tuesday. Councilmember-elect Salaam’s victory wasn’t exactly a surprise, as he was running unopposed.

The Root interviewed Salaam for our new digital show, The 411, where he discussed his election. 

“If I’m not mistaken, I’m the first person who was exonerated to be in city council,” he said. “That says something to a community of people who are looking for solutions to similar issues. Folks who have been run over the spoke wheels of justice.”

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