By Samantha Cooney
November 9, 2016
Samantha Cooney is the content strategy editor at TIME.

When Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for president to Barack Obama in 2008, she delivered a now-famous concession speech about what the moment represented for women in politics.

“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it,” Clinton said, “and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”

Eight years later, many women say they are heartbroken that the highest, hardest glass ceiling had yet to be shattered after Republican nominee Donald Trump defeated Clinton. But perhaps there is some light for those Clinton supporters: women, particularly women of color, did contribute some cracks to that glass ceiling last night by winning historic races in their states.

Meet the women who Clinton supporters are calling the “tiniest speck of light” of the 2016 election.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris celebrates winning her Senate race at her rally in downtown on November 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times)
Barbara Davidson—LA Times via Getty Images

California’s Senator-elect will become only the second black woman to serve as U.S. Senator (the first was Carol Moseley Braun, who represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999) and the first Indian-American elected to the Senate. Harris’ victory also marked a significant milestone for California, which has never elected a black or Latino politician to the United States Senate. Harris, who previously served California’s attorney general, was born to Jamaican and Indian immigrants. She attended one of the first Berkeley elementary schools to integrate, attended the historically black Howard University and built a career fighting for rights for women and minorities.


Catherine Cortez Masto

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 08: Former Nevada Attorney General and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto waves to supporters after winning her senate race against U.S. Rep Joe Heck (R-NV) at the Nevada Democratic Party's election results watch party at the Aria Resort & Casino on November 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Masto will replace outgoing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller—Getty Images

Democrat Cortez Masto, a former Nevada state attorney general, defeated Republican opponent Joe Heck to win a Senate seat in Nevada. She will become the first Latina senator in U.S. history and the first female senator from the state of Nevada. Cortez Masto, the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, has advocated for immigration reform and justice for human trafficking survivors during her political career.

Tammy Duckworth

Democrat Tammy Duckworth, candidate for the U.S. Senate declares victory in her bid to unseat Republican Senator Mark Kirk at the JW Marriott Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016 in Chicago. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago Tribune—TNS via Getty Images

Representative Duckworth, a veteran who lost both of her legs while serving in Iraq, won back President Obama’s former Illinois senate seat for the Democrats by defeating Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. Duckworth, who currently represents Illinois in the House of Representatives, was born in Thailand, and will help give the Senate the most Asian-American women in its history. Duckworth will be the second female senator in Illinois’ history.

Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar, a candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)

Omar beat her Republican opponent to win a seat in Minnesota’s state legislature, making her the first Somali-American ever elected to a state legislature. The 34-year-old mother of three is also a Muslim and wears the hijab. Born in Somalia and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for four years before immigrating to the United States, she has spent her career fighting against racism, religious intolerance and economic inequality. “It is the land of liberty and justice for all, but we have to work for it. Our democracy is great, but it’s fragile. It’s come through a lot of progress, and we need to continue that progress to make it actually ‘justice for all,'” Omar told the Huffington Post in October.

Write to Samantha Cooney at


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