Tuesday was Election Day, and despite being an off-cycle year, 2023 was an unusually heated year for politics. The upcoming presidential election has heightened partisan divides as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump seem headed for a rematch of 2020, and issues like abortion rights have galvanized several state races. Overall, Election Day 2023 was a victory for Democrats, who won control of the Virginia legislature and maintained the governorship of Kentucky, among other wins. Democrats also achieved two historic firsts.

Cherelle Parker will be Philadelphia’s first woman mayor.

The United States will soon have a Black woman leading another major city, as Democrat Cherelle Parker won Philadelphia’s mayoral race. Parker, who won a crowded Democratic primary race earlier this year, cruised to victory in the heavily Democratic city. Parker has a long history in politics, including multiple years as a state representative and a Philadelphia City Council member. Her win will make her Philadelphia’s 100th mayor. Parker, who has said that she has “lived at the intersection of race and gender” all of her life, will be the first woman — and thus the first Black woman — to lead the city. 

“Thank you, Phlly! We did it. We made history, or maybe HERstory,” Parker said in a video posted on social media marking her victory, pledging to work toward “a safer, cleaner, greener city with economic opportunity for all.”

Gabe Amo will be Rhode Island’s first Black Congressman.

Another big historic first came out of Rhode Island, which will send a Black person to Congress for the first time in that state’s history. Democrat Gabe Amo won a special election to replace Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving Congress to lead the Rhode Island Foundation. Amo, the son of immigrants from Ghana and Liberia, previously served as a White House aide for both Presidents Biden and Obama, most recently serving as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for Biden. Like Parker, Amo won a crowded Democratic primary, which made him the heavy favorite to win the general election given Rhode Island’s blue-leaning voting population. 

“Thank you, Rhode Island for putting your trust in me,” Amo tweeted to his supporters, adding that his victory “is just the beginning of a partnership between me and the people of the First District.”

Blue Wave for 2023 as 2024 race shapes up

The victories of Parker and Amo represent a strong performance for Democrats in 2023, which some call a “Blue Wave.” Their wins also demonstrate the strength of Black people in the Democratic Party, both as voters and as candidates. The party will no doubt look to continue mobilizing Black constituents and promoting Black candidates as it hopes to continue its strong showing in 2024.