Jabari Brisport won an uncontested race for New York’s 25th Senate District in Brooklyn, making history as the first openly gay black man to be elected to New York State Legislature. He is a part of the “Rainbow Wave,“ a term used to describe a new wave of LGBTQ+ candidates winning seats in Congress and state legislatures around the country.
Brisport assumes office on January 6, 2021.
His first political campaign was in the 2017 general election for 35th District seat on the New York City Council, when he ran against incumbent Laurie Cumbo.
Even though he lost that race, Brisport won nearly 30 percent of the vote and was inspired to run for public office again.
He went on to win the Democratic primary elections this year for New York’s 25th State Senate District against Tremaine Wright, a two-term assemblywoman, and then won in the general election, where he ran unopposed.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez supported Brisport’s Senate campaign, as did actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, state Sen. Julia Salazar and state Assemblyman Robert Carroll.
Brisport was also endorsed by New York’s Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, where he has advocated for progressive ideals like criminal justice reform, housing, health care, education and labor. On his website, he is described as a “candidate fighting for working-class New Yorkers” and one who will “fight for all New Yorkers, not just for the wealthy elite.” He has proclaimed to be a “proud socialist.”
Brisport’s first introduction into politics was when he was protesting in support of New York’s marriage equality laws in the New York state Senate more than a decade ago where he remembered feeling like a “second-class citizen.” To this day, Jabari has fought for the rights of LGBTQ people of color claiming that, “It’s important to me that people like me, other queer people of color, feel like they’re seen and feel like they’re represented in New York politics.”
Brisport is also someone who fully represents the community that he was elected in. Born Bedford-Stuyvesant and raised in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn to Carribean parents, he earned degrees from New York University and Yale, and worked as a public school teacher. He has an extensive history of activism, fighting for teacher’s unions, equitable working conditions, and being a racial justice organizer.
The senator-elect has also advocated for more funding for public schools instead of policing and claimed that the billionaire interests are pushing to destroy the public school system in favor of charter schools, leading to a crisis in education.
Criminal justice reform is another priority on his agenda. He claims that the police often target people of color, the poor, and working class people as their victims. He believes strongly that neighborhoods can be safer when things like housing, stable jobs, healthcare, and education are provided and doesn’t believe in the strict enforcement of state laws that infringe upon individual human rights.
“As a state senator, I will do everything that I can to end policing and incarceration as we know it,” he said.