For more than two centuries, the highest levels of American power have been dominated by men … almost all white. That ended this Wednesday Kamala Harris will be the first vice president and the first black woman of South Asian descent to hold that position.
His rise is historic in any context, another time when a tenacious frontier disappears, broadening the idea of what is possible in American politics. But it is particularly significant because Harris takes office at a time of profound importance, when Americans dispute the role of institutional racism and face a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated the black and brown communities.
Those who know Harris say he will bring an important – and often absent – perspective to the debates on how to overcome the many obstacles that await the new government.
“In many people’s lives, we have experienced a segregated America,” said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime friend and disciple of Harris. “Now we will have a black woman who will enter the White House not as a guest but as second in command of the free world.”
Harris – daughter of immigrants, stepmother of two children and wife of a Jewish man- “embodies the story of intersectionality of many Americans who are never seen or heard. “
Harris, 56, is serving as vice president only four years after first coming to Washington as a senator from California, where she was previously attorney general and district attorney for San Francisco. He had hoped to work with a White House in the hands of Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump’s victory quickly gave a glimpse of things in the nation’s capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars.
His inauguration comes nearly two years after Harris launched his own presidential candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr.Day in 2019. His campaign lost momentum before the primary voting began, but Harris’s rise continued when Joe Biden launched it. chose as a running mate last August. Harris had been close friends with Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s eldest son and a former Delaware attorney general who died of cancer in 2015.
Assumption ceremony activities will include allusions to her historical role and personal history.
Harris was sworn in before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on that high court. Harris used two Bibles, one belonging to the Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, the late civil rights icon whom Harris often cites as inspiration, and another belonging to Regina Shelton, a longtime friend of his family who helped raise Harris as a child in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group of drummers from Howard University, where Harris studied, joined the presidential escort.
Celebrations for Kamala Harris in India. Photo: EFE
“We are turning the page on a very dark period in our history,” said Long Beach, California Mayor Robert Garcia, a Harris ally. Garcia said he hopes that, as Democrats celebrate the end of Trump’s presidency, do not overlook the importance of the inauguration of the country’s first female vice president.
“It is a very important historical moment that should also be highlighted,” he said.
Harris has frequently reflected on his rise in politics by recalling the lessons of his mother, who taught him to embrace a great cause and face adversity.
Harris has frequently reflected on his rise in politics by recalling his mother’s lessons. Photo: AFP
“They raised me not to hear ‘no.’ Let me be clear on this. Not that they said to me: ‘Ah, the possibilities are enormous. You can do whatever you want, ‘”he recalled during an interview on“ CBS Sunday Morning ”that aired on Sunday.
“No, they brought me up to understand that many people will tell you, ‘It’s impossible,’ but I shouldn’t listen to them.”
While Biden took center stage at Wednesday’s investiture ceremonies, Harris’s inauguration had more symbolic weight than that of any other vice president of modern times.
She will expand defining who has access to power in US politics, said Martha S. Jones, a Johns Hopkins University history professor and author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All” (Vanguard: How Black Women Breaked Down Barriers, Got the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All.)
Those who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn what it means to graduate from a historically black college rather than one from the Ivy League. They will have to understand Harris traditions, such as Diwali, or the festival of lights, Jones said.
President and Vice, at the top of Time. Photo: archive
“People will have to adapt to it instead of her adapting to others, ”Jones said.
Her election as Vice President should be the beginning of the appointment of black women in leadership positionsJones said, particularly after the role black women played in organizing and promoting voter turnout in the November elections.
“We will all see what happens to the kind of skills and views of black women in politics when they are allowed to lead those skills and views,” Jones said.
The authors are Associated Press journalists
Translation: Elisa Carnelli