Maine House Of Representatives Elects First Black House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross
The Maine House of Representatives elected Rachel Talbot Ross, 62, as the first Black person to lead the state house.
News Center Maine (NCM) reports House members and spectators were elated and celebrated when Ross was announced to lead the chamber. Ross is part of a legacy of Black politicians in the Pine Tree State as her father, Gerald Talbot, was the first Black member of the state legislature.
Ross, the former president of the Portland NAACP, was first elected to the House in 2016 and has risen in state politics since with state Democrats tapping her to be the House’s Assistant Majority Leader, making her the first Black person to serve in a leadership position in the legislature.
“I want any child in our state to know today that this is possible,” she told her fellow legislators according to NCM.
“I’m so very glad for this blessing, and yes, there can be very little doubt I am my father’s proud daughter.”
While Maine is considered one of the whitest states in the U.S., its politicians have become more diverse in recent years with two Somali-American women, Deqa Dhalac and Mana Abdi, elected to the Maine House, and Sen. Jill Duson of Portland as the first Black woman in the Maine Senate.
Ross, who campaigned on fighting the rising cost of living, climate change, and a significant need for affordable healthcare and housing, acknowledged tribal leaders in attendance and suggested the state was long overdue for a “state of the tribes” address which last happened in 2002.
Ross’ father, Talbot, who was elected in 1972, was the founding president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP, which was reactivated last year, and was the first Black lawmaker in the state. He also served on the state’s Board of Education.
Maine’s influx of Black female politicians adds to the growing number of Black women in U.S. politics. There are currently nine Black female mayors who are already in office or are set to enter office. Additionally, four of the largest U.S. cities are being run by Black mayors, and the number of Black governors has grown, with Wes Moore being elected Maryland Governor in a landslide.