District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez earned some serious bragging rights Wednesday, when The Root ranked him as the 71st most influential Black figure in the country — right above Beyoncé, who ranked 72.

McKee-Rodriguez, 26, who won a runoff against former District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan in May, becoming the first openly gay Black man elected to office in Texas, was having none of it.

“Any list that puts anyone above Beyoncé is invalid,” he joked after saying he was honored to be included on the list.

The Root, an online publication dedicated to Black perspectives, released its 12th annual Root 100 list, which “amplifies and recognizes contemporary Black Voices in a variety of industries,” on Wednesday.

McKee-Rodriguez is the second openly gay council member in San Antonio’s history and the first openly gay man; the first openly gay person to serve on City Council was Elena Guajardo (D7), who was elected in 2005.

His historic win earned him the attention of The Root.

“Texas is known for its contentious and aggressively conservative politics, but a new generation of leaders like Jalen McKee-Rodriguez is spearheading progressive change,” The Root wrote in McKee-Rodriguez’s bio.

McKee-Rodriguez said his inclusion on The Root’s list was “crazy,” but also showed him that his efforts in the last municipal election cycle had a wider impact than just in San Antonio.

“It was a history-making campaign,” he said. “I’m glad that it’s reached so many people, and I hope it inspires a whole community of people like me.”

Beyoncé, 40, is one of the most influential entertainers in pop music history. She has earned 28 Grammy awards, the second-most Grammy awards in history. Her last album, The Lion King: The Gift was released in 2019 to accompany the remake of Disney’s The Lion King film. That album received a Grammy nomination and the song “Spirit” received two.

As of Thursday, Beyoncé had not reached out to McKee-Rodriguez to congratulate him.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.