Just over a century ago, Jeannette Rankin of Montana won a seat in the House of Representatives, becoming the first woman ever elected to federal office. In 1917, 128 years after the first United States Congress convened, she was sworn into its 65th session.

One hundred and two years later, one has become 131 — the number of women serving in both chambers of the 116th Congress as of this month.

Susan BrooksR, Ind.
Abigail SpanbergerD, Va.
Alexandria Ocasio-CortezD, N.Y.
Alma AdamsD, N.C.
Cindy AxneD, Iowa
Angie CraigD, Minn.
Anna EshooD, Calif.
“It gives me pride to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years since women won the right to vote, and as we serve with more than 100 women.”Nancy PelosiD, Calif.
Ann KirkpatrickD, Ariz.
Ann WagnerR, Mo.
Aumua Amata Coleman RadewagenR, American Samoa
Ayanna PressleyD, Mass.
Betty McCollumD, Minn.
Yvette ClarkeD, N.Y.
Veronica EscobarD, Tex.
“Being a woman in power means knowing it’s O.K. to be fierce.”Joni ErnstR, Iowa
Cheri BustosD, Ill.
Chrissy HoulahanD, Pa.
Kamala HarrisD, Calif.
Jenniffer González-ColónR, P.R.
Debbie LeskoR, Ariz.
Tammy BaldwinD, Wis.
Katie PorterD, Calif.
Lauren UnderwoodD, Ill.
Lisa MurkowskiR, Alaska
“Congress has never heard a voice like mine. After years of seeing my community at the whim of national politics while organizing in Indian Country, it was time for me to take the lead.”Deb HaalandD, N.M.
Lucy McBathD, Ga.
Donna ShalalaD, Fla.

For most of recorded American history, political power has looked a certain way. Portraits of power call certain images to mind — those of older, white men, dressed in suits and depicted in formal settings.

The 2018 midterm elections ushered in a change in representation; for the first time, more than 100 women serve in the House of Representatives — out of 435 seats — and members of color were elected in more states than ever before.

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This portraits series documents the women of the 116th Congress in their totality. Like the work of Kehinde Wiley, who painted Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait, these photographs evoke the imagery we are used to seeing in the halls of power, but place people not previously seen as powerful starkly in the frames.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s official portrait, left, and Representative Yvette Clarke, Democrat of New York.

Viewed together, these portraits demonstrate the scale of the number of women in both the House and Senate. But, when seen as singular portraits, each image represents an individual with her own perspective — in political beliefs, personal goals and histories.

Many of these women, spanning generations, serve as firsts in Congress: the first women representing their states, the first female combat veteran, the first Native American women, the first Muslim women, the first openly gay member of the Senate, the first woman Speaker of the House — the list goes on.

Eddie Bernice JohnsonD, Tex.
Elissa SlotkinD, Mich.
Jackie SpeierD, Calif.
Elise StefanikR, N.Y.
Elaine LuriaD, Va.
Kyrsten SinemaD, Ariz.
Grace MengD, N.Y.
Grace NapolitanoD, Calif.
Gwen MooreD, Wis.
Haley StevensD, Mich.
“The disconnect between the America I heard about in the refugee camp, a land of opportunity where everyone had an equal shot at a better life, compared to the one I found has motivated me since the first day I arrived.”Ilhan OmarD, Minn.
Marsha BlackburnR, Tenn.
Jackie WalorskiR, Ind.
Jacky RosenD, Nev.
Jahana HayesD, Conn.
Cindy Hyde-SmithR, Miss.
Jeanne ShaheenD, N.H.
Jennifer WextonD, Va.
Amy KlobucharD, Minn.
“I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a business owner and a bison farmer. I don’t think my gender defines who I am, but it does add value and perspective to the decisions I make.”Carol MillerR, W.Va.
Joyce BeattyD, Ohio
Judy ChuD, Calif.
Julia BrownleyD, Calif.
Elizabeth WarrenD, Mass.
Karen BassD, Calif.
Katherine ClarkD, Mass.
Kathleen RiceD, N.Y.
Catherine Cortez MastoD, Nev.
Katie HillD, Calif.
Debbie StabenowD, Mich.
Kay GrangerR, Tex.
Kendra HornD, Okla.
Kim SchrierD, Wash.
Frederica WilsonD, Fla.
Debbie Wasserman SchultzD, Fla.
Kathy CastorD, Fla.
Ann McLane KusterD, N.H.
“To truly represent the American people, Congress needs more women and moms. I’m expecting my third baby since I was elected to serve, and it is a privilege to offer my unique perspective as we shape policy for all American families.”Jaime Herrera BeutlerR, Wash.
Eleanor Holmes NortonD, D.C.
Martha McSallyR, Ariz.
Cathy McMorris RodgersR, Wash.
Barbara LeeD, Calif.
Bonnie Watson ColemanD, N.J.
Jan SchakowskyD, Ill.
Debbie DingellD, Mich.
Doris MatsuiD, Calif.
Shelley Moore CapitoR, W.Va.
Chellie PingreeD, Me.

Though women’s numbers in Congress have, on average, risen over the years, growth has been neither linear nor steady. And while white women have served in Congress since 1917, and in the Senate since 1922 (though at the time only for one day), it wasn’t until 1964 that a woman of color was elected, when Patsy Takemoto Mink was voted into the House. The Senate did not have its first woman of color until Illinois elected Carol Moseley Braun in 1992.

Recent gains in women’s representation have been unevenly split across the political aisle. While in the 1980s, Democrats and Republicans had roughly the same number of women serving, about 80 percent of the women in Congress now are Democrats.

What it means to be a woman in power varies significantly, even among this class of 131 women. For some, their identity as women is an integral aspect of their life experiences and thus their legislative approach. Others say they are not defined by their gender and should be seen as politicians that happen to be women, rather than women politicians.

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More women holding elected office is significant not only in that it brings Congress closer to looking like the American population. It also expands the collective imagination about what power can and should look like.

Portraits of these women of the 116th Congress are a testament to what power looks like in 2019 — and the possibilities of what it may look like in the years to come.

— ELIZABETH D. HERMAN

Linda SanchézD, Calif.
“Seeing folks in my community frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity and the negative rhetoric in our national politics motivated me.”Lisa Blunt RochesterD, Del.
Dianne FeinsteinD, Calif.
Lizzie FletcherD, Tex.
Lois FrankelD, Fla.
Lori TrahanD, Mass.
Lucille Roybal-AllardD, Calif.
Dina TitusD, Nev.
Madeleine DeanD, Pa.
Suzanne BonamiciD, Ore.
Marcia FudgeD, Ohio
Marcy KapturD, Ohio
Norma TorresD, Calif.
Martha RobyR, Alabama
Mary Gay ScanlonD, Pa.
Maxine WatersD, Calif.
Mazie HironoD, Hawaii
Mikie SherrillD, N.J.
Stephanie MurphyD, Fla.
Nita LoweyD, N.Y.
Maria CantwellD, Wash.
Nydia VelázquezD, N.Y.
Patty MurrayD, Wash.
Kirsten GillibrandD, N.Y.
Pramila JayapalD, Wash.
Rashida TlaibD, Mich.
Robin KellyD, Ill.
Rosa DeLauroD, Conn.
Sharice DavidsD, Kan.
Sheila Jackson LeeD, Tex.
Deb FischerR, Neb.
Stacey PlaskettD, V.I.
Maggie HassanD, N.H.
Abby FinkenauerD, Iowa
“Maine has a long tradition of women in power. The legendary Senator Margaret Chase Smith was senator the entire time I was growing up.”Susan CollinsR, Me.
Susan DavisD, Calif.
Susan WildD, Pa.
Susie LeeD, Nev.
Diana DeGetteD, Colo.
Suzan DelBeneD, Wash.
Nanette Diaz BarragánD, Calif.
Sylvia GarciaD, Tex.
Debbie Mucarsel-PowellD, Fla.
“I promised myself I would do whatever it took to honor my buddies who saved my life on that dusty battlefield in Iraq and repay them for their sacrifice. I realized that the best thing I could do to continue to serve our country and help make it better was to run for office.”Tammy DuckworthD, Ill.
Terri SewellD, Ala.
Tina SmithD, Minn.
Tulsi GabbardD, Hawaii
Val DemingsD, Fla.
Carolyn MaloneyD, N.Y.
Vicky HartzlerR, Mo.
Virginia FoxxR, N.C.
Xochitl Torres SmallD, N.M.
Brenda LawrenceD, Mich.
Zoe LofgrenD, Calif.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins

 

AFRICAN AMERICA IS AT WAR

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICA

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

AMERICA'S RACISTS HAVE INFILTRATED AMERICAN POLICE FORCES TO WAGE A RACE WAR AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

THE BLACK RACE IS AT WAR

FIRST WORLD WAR:  THE APPROXIMATELY 6,000 YEAR WORLD WAR ON AFRICA AND THE BLACK RACE

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