US President Joe Biden on Thursday named Karine Jean-Pierre as the next White House press secretary, the first Black person to hold the high-profile post.
Jean-Pierre, who will also be the first openly LGBTQ+ person in the role, will replace Jen Psaki, under whom she served as deputy, from May 13.
Biden in a statement praised Jean-Pierre’s “experience, talent and integrity,” saying he was “proud” to announce her appointment.
The outgoing spokeswoman, bringing Jean-Pierre behind the podium for the traditional briefing of accredited journalists at the White House on Thursday, praised, in a voice sometimes choked with emotion, the qualities of her deputy, whom she hugged several times.
Jean-Pierre “will be the first Black woman, the first out LGBTQ+ person to serve in this role,” said Psaki, who said from the outset that she would step down during Biden’s term.
Jean-Pierre’s promotion is “amazing because representation matters and she is going to give a voice to so many and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard and dream big,” Psaki added, opting not to comment on media reports that she will be joining TV channel MSNBC after leaving the White House.
Also visibly moved, the future press secretary said: “This is a historic moment and it’s not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people.”
The 44-year-old Jean-Pierre, who has a daughter with her partner, a CNN journalist, has already taken to the famed podium in the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room as Psaki’s number two.
From May she’ll take center stage at the daily White House press conference, which is broadcast live and highly scrutinized.
Before her, only one other Black woman, Judy Smith, had been deputy White House press secretary, during George H.W. Bush’s presidency in 1991.
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