LOS ANGELES - Voters penned a new chapter for the history books after electing Kamala Harris as vice president and Joe Biden as president.
After the ballots were counted, Harris became the country’s first Black and first female second-in-command. She will be inaugurated along with president-elect Biden on Jan. 20.
Born in 1964, Harris is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. She previously made history in 2017 as the first Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the U.S. Senate. In 2010, voters elected her as the first Black woman to serve as California attorney general.
When Biden first announced Harris as his running mate in August 2020, supporters flooded social media with praise over the historic moment. Critics also voiced their opposition, noting decisions she made as a prosecutor.
But it was undeniable that her nomination and win marked a major turning point in U.S. history and politics.
“Americans, including little Black and Brown girls, watched with amazement, pride and a renewed sense of hope. We congratulate Senator Harris and wish her the best on this historic journey, ” said Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated in August when Biden announced Harris as his pick.
“It is a proud moment for any citizen of this country who believes in the possibilities that America represents regardless of race, color or creed, sex, nationality or political party,” Glover said. Harris is a member of the historically Black female sorority, which also includes Maya Angelou and Coretta Scott King as members.
“This moment is long overdue. For far too long, we have undervalued Black women’s political power and their role in shaping our culture, communities, and country,” said the NAACP in an August statement.
Harris’ win was a nod to previous Black women who also fought to make their way in the world of politics. Shirley Chisolm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1969, and the first Black woman from a major political party to seek the presidential nomination.
Other independent Black female presidential candidates included community organizer Margaret Wright, who ran on the People’s Party ticket in 1976; Isabell Masters, a teacher who created her own third party called Looking Back and ran in 1984, 1992 and 2004; and teacher Monica Moorehead of the Workers World Party ticket, who ran in 1996, 2000 and 2016, according to the Associated Press.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they [Black women] organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought—not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed,” Harris said in her nomination acceptance speech at the virtual Democratic National Convention in August.
This is a developing story.