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Adrienne Adams Becomes First African-American Woman To Be Elected New York City Council Speaker

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Wednesday was a historic day for the New York City Council. It's the most diverse council in history and for the first time an African-American woman has been elected speaker.

Change has swept the council. For the first time women make up the majority. Of the 51 members, 31 are female, and 34 members are brand new, CBS2's Cindy Hsu reported.

Adrienne Adams, no relation to Mayor Eric Adams, was elected the first African-American council speaker, with only two members voting against her, including Charles Baron.

"We don't want a change in the complexion. We want a change in the direction of leadership," Baron said.

In all, 49 members voted in favor of Adams. Gayle Brewer was one.

"A majority of us supported the wonderful Adrienne Adams because she is able to unify us around the idea of a speaker who would listen to and represent everyone," Brewer said.

"History has its eyes on this City Council. We meet here today as the most diverse council in history, led by the first African-American speaker," Adams said.

Christine Quinn, who was the first female and first openly gay speaker, said Wednesday was an incredible day for so many, especially young girls of color.

"As they watch this news show tonight, they will see that they, too, can rise to the highest ranks of government in the greatest city of the world," Quinn said.

Adams, 61, grew up in Hollis, Queens, graduated from Spelman College with a degree in psychology, and had a long career in the private sector in management and corporate training. However, she said she felt the pull of public service and joined Community Board 12 in Queens, and then was elected to City Council in 2017. She's also the first mother to become speaker, and she's a grandmother.

She thanked the unions for their support and spoke of her parents.

"My father spent 14 hours a day out of the house as a proud Teamster. My mother worked for two decades as a correction officer, serving the city that she loved with distinction and retiring as a captain in that department," Adams said.

She spoke of the COVID-19 crisis, health care, and the racial reckoning the country faces, adding the council will get things done by bringing people together.

"Thank you, colleagues. We're going to run this chamber together. We're going to do this. We're going to do this," Adams said to applause.

Speaker Adams will announce her leadership team in the coming days.

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