For Mr. Biden and his transition team, the selection of key jobs has become a constantly shifting puzzle as they search for candidates who are qualified, get along with the president-elect, and help create the ethnic and gender mosaic that would be a striking contrast with President Trump’s administration.
Allies of Ms. Fudge, including Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and one of Mr. Biden’s most prominent Black supporters during the 2020 campaign, had urged the president-elect to put Ms. Fudge at the Agriculture Department, where she had hoped to shift the agency’s focus away from farming and toward hunger, including in urban areas.
Instead, Mr. Biden settled on Mr. Vilsack, who is white and from an important rural farming state.
But the decision to instead put Ms. Fudge at HUD, which is viewed by some advocacy groups as a more traditional place for a Black secretary, has the potential to disappoint those pushing for her, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a former chairwoman. The current housing secretary, Ben Carson, is Black.
Just hours after Mr. Biden made official his historic choice of General Austin for defense secretary, a group of Black civil rights activists urged Mr. Biden to nominate a Black attorney general and to make civil rights a higher priority.
“He said if he won, he would do something about criminal justice, police reform and specifically mass incarceration,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader and talk show host, said in an interview on Tuesday before a meeting with Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “He flew to Houston to meet before I did the eulogy for George Floyd. He made specific commitments. I’m saying, promises made, let’s see if promises are kept.”