Much has changed in America in 25 years. Too much has not.
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Much has changed in America in 25 years. Too much has not.

In 1996, there was one Black woman in the United States Senate: Carol Moseley Braun. Today, there are none.
Illustration of Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Black women voters in Georgia, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Ours is a nation that constantly pushes and pulls.MSNBC; Getty Images

Help us celebrate MSNBC’s first 25 years by joining us every day for 25 days as our anchors, hosts, and correspondents share their thoughts on where we've been — and where we’re going.

How to process 25 years of MSNBC! Back in 1996, I was the mother of a one-year-old and an instant fan of the channel. America was fresh on the heels of the O.J. Simpson “trial of the century” and in the thick of the Bill Clinton presidential re-election campaign. Much has changed in America since then (and for me personally, as I’m now both a fan, and a part of the MSNBC family.) Too much has not. Ours is a nation that constantly pushes and pulls, advances and retreats on our fraught journey toward being a true multiracial democracy.

The era of Clinton centrism and “third way” politics has given way to a more robust liberalism, which has amplified the voices of people of color.

In 1996, there was one Black woman in the United States Senate: Carol Moseley Braun. Today, there are none, though the reason is that the lone Black woman senator, Kamala Harris, was elected vice president of the United States. Meanwhile, the era of Clinton centrism and “third way” politics has given way to a more robust liberalism, which has amplified the voices of people of color and Indigenous people inside the Democratic Party, which utterly depends on the votes of non-white Americans.

In the 25 years since MSNBC launched, we have elected a Black president, and re-elected him. We’ve also faced the furious backlash that culminated in the Trump presidency, as well as the most violent siege on our Capitol in 200 years. Oh, and we suffered a historic pandemic that has stolen more than 600,000 lives.

Last year, we elected President Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden as president. And he could yet make some history of his own. Our second Catholic president, following JFK, faces the burden of ushering America through the thicket of resurgent white nationalism and hyper-partisan rage, to get us to that more perfect union. And the 2022 election will be referendum on whether we remain a democracy, with a robust right to vote, or whether we fall backwards into autocracy.

The 2022 ballots could include no fewer than three Black female U.S. Senate candidates — in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. And advocates predict more candidates of color will run for statewide office than ever before. America is freer and fairer than it has ever been for LGBTQ people — though we still have work to do, particularly for the trans community. And we have all learned the power of social media to change perceptions and lives — for better and for worse.

In the end, our goal at MSNBC is to keep telling the stories of who we are and where we are as an ever-changing, ever-striving and struggling nation. And to keep a keen eye, always, on history.