Senator Kamala Harris will be the next vice president of the United States, making her not only the first woman in this office, but also the first woman of color to break the glass ceiling after Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
Harris, who is African-American and South Asian, played a key role in the Biden campaign in black and Latin American communities and in interviews with black and Spanish-speaking media that had a large critical audience that wanted to reach the campaign.
In a statement posted on Twitter shortly after the race was called by several media, Harris twittered that the presidential election “is about so much more than Joe Biden or me. It is about the soul of the American and our willingness to fight for it. We still have a lot of work to do. Let us begin”.
This election is about so much more than @Joe Biden or me. It is about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We still have a lot of work to do. Let’s get started.pic.twitter.com/Bb9JZpggLN
– Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2020
“This is the realization of a dream for millions of us,” said Aimee Allison, president of She the People, which is committed to increasing the political power of women of color. “Colored women were the kryptonite for Trump’s antics, and once the smoke clears, the country will realize how important they were to this victory.
Harris was always high on the short list for Biden’s candidacy for vice president, but pressure to elect a black woman increased after the assassination of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, leading to national protests in his name.
Angela Rye, the former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, was one of the authors of a Washington Post op-ed calling on Biden to elect a black woman as his candidate because the black community had saved his candidacy in primary states like South Carolina and throughout the South.
Rye told Washington Newsday that Harris’s rise to the next vice president was a “wonderful moment,” but said the move was deserved, not given.
“It will be great to have a woman who looks like us occupy a seat that she deserves,” said Rye, who used her media platform to bring out the voices of black people and youth. “The reality is that we’ve always done this work.
I am so excited about the historic election of Kamala Harris as the first black woman, the first South Asian woman to enter the White House.
Glynda Carr, co-founder of Higher Heights
Glynda Carr, who co-founded Higher Heights to lift the political power of black women from the voting booths into elected office, was also at the forefront of this work. Carr helped elect 11 black women to Congress since 2011, including Harris.
“I’m so excited about the historic election of Kamala Harris as the first black woman, the first South Asian woman on her way to the White House,” Carr told Washington Newsday, naming Harris as part of the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in Congress and the first black woman to run for the presidency from a major party.
She cited research on “role models” or how political leadership creates opportunities for young girls and young colored girls. She recalled a picture of her youngest pre-school goddaughter approaching the wide-screen TV to watch Harris speak and touch the screen.
But after the victory comes the time for the Biden Harris ticket, activists said. Nekima Levy, a Minnesota civil rights lawyer and Black Lives Matter activist who was on the scene after Floyd’s death sparked protests, said Harris as vice president was “groundbreaking and monumental.
Yet, she said, Biden and Harris must recognize that they “still have so much work to do because of their past policies and practices that included mass arrests and criminal justice.
“My expectation is that they will use the tyrant pulpit and fulfill their campaign promises to correct those earlier decisions,” she added.
Carr said Harris was in a unique position to deal with race relations, criminal justice and the protection and extension of voting rights as vice president, and she cited Biden’s demand that his election as vice president be someone who would be the last person in the Oval Office to advise him.
“She will carry the votes of women and black women into this room,” she said.