For the first time in the Maryland House of Delegates, an African-American woman has been elected Speaker. The historic event happened on Wednesday, after four centuries of the position being held by White men.
According to The Washington Post, Del. Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County had withdrawn her name from the race to help rally support behind African-American male candidate Dereck E. Davis, who represents Prince George’s county. With her removal, Davis and openly gay Maggie McIntosh (Baltimore City), went head to head for the position.
The dissension among the candidates threatened to divide the party in two, and a decision was made among Democrats to nominate Jones from the House floor. The nomination was made by McIntosh who at the time said, “These walls will never be the same,” according to WaPo.
Jones will now succeed Michael E. Busch, who died in early April at the age of 73. The Woodstock, Maryland, resident served as his second-in-command for 16 years and has worked for Baltimore County government for nearly 40 years.
Jones’ ascension puts her among a very small number of African- American women in the country who serve as a presiding officer in a state legislature. It also makes her one of few people of color in Maryland’s congressional delegation, though the state’s population is nearly a third Black.
“I’m still overwhelmed by it all, the turn of the events,” Jones told reporters about her new position.
In a statement shared on Twitter, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said, “The election of our first African-American and first female Speaker marks a proud and historic moment for our state.”