BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Today, Binghamton University graduate Hakeem Jeffries was elected House Democratic leader, making him the first Black person ever to lead a party in Congress.

Jeffries studied political science at Binghamton and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University in 1992. He was an active member of Binghamton’s Black Student Union and the president of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.

BU Political Science Professor David Cingranelli remembers having Jeffries in two of his classes.

He says that Jeffries was outgoing, talkative, conscientious, and a good public speaker who has gone on to advance his skills as an orator.

Jeffries was first elected to Congress in 2013, after serving in the New York State Legislature. He is currently in his fifth term in the House of Representatives and serves as a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee.

In 2018, he was elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, making him the fifth-highest ranking Democrat in the House until now.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul released the following statement in regards to Jeffries’ election:

“There is no better advocate for our Democratic values than Brooklyn’s own Representative Hakeem Jeffries. From his time in the State Assembly to his current tenure in Congress, Representative Jeffries has been fighting for the people — for our democracy, for public safety, for criminal justice reform, and for the communities he serves. I congratulate Representative Jeffries on his historic election as House Democratic Leader, a major achievement that will usher in a new era of leadership for the 118th Congress”

Jeffries will replace Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as House Democrat leader on January 3rd. He will not serve as Speaker of the House as that position has been conceded to Republicans.