Today marks the start of the Democratic National Convention, where later this week the Democratic…
6 Times Kamala Harris Paid Tribute to the Women Who Came Before Her
“I’m here today because of the women who came before me,” Kamala Harris said to the crowd gathered to celebrate her before being elected as the 49th Vice President of the United States.
Harris broke through one of the most long-standing barriers in American public office when she became the first woman elected Vice President of the United States. The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, Harris is no stranger to making history. She was the first woman and first Black American to serve as district attorney in San Francisco in 2003 and to serve as attorney general of California in 2010.
Throughout her career, Vice President Harris has consistently paid tribute to the women who paved the way for her. Today, we’re looking at just a few of the times that she has honored the women who made it possible for her to reach those unprecedented heights:
- Shirley Chisholm
When Kamala Harris entered the 2020 Presidential race, she chose a red and yellow design logo that resembled the campaign buttons used by Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, and the first woman and Black candidate to seek a major party’s Presidential nomination. Harris also announced her campaign 47 years to the day Chisolm kicked off her campaign back in 1972. “Shirley Chisholm’s activism, advocacy and willingness to persistently remind the nation of the work to be done on behalf of its people is an enduring legacy that lives on in the Senator and to honor that legacy in her own campaign for President was a no-brainer,” said Kirsten Allen, a campaign spokeswoman for Harris.
- Rosa Parks
In the documentary “382: Organizing for the Future” which commemorates the events surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the civil rights movement, Harris said, “I am clear that I am speaking to you as Vice President-elect of the United States because of all that happened in Montgomery in December of 1955 and the months that followed. Because of the courage, resilience and fortitude of Rosa McCauley Parks.”
- Sisters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
On Inauguration Day, Vice President Harris wore pearls to represent unity with her sisters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the first African American sorority in the country, which she joined at Howard University. The sorority, whose founders are referred to as the “Twenty Pearls,” adorn each new member with a badge of 20 pearls.
- Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Sources reported that Harris chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, to swear her in as Vice President because she was “inspired by her legacy and their shared background as former prosecutors.”
- Women of the suffrage movement
Kamala Harris made her first speech as Vice President-elect wearing the color white in a nod to the women of the suffrage movement, who helped secure women the right to vote with the 19th amendment. “All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century – 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued their fight for the fundamental right to vote and be heard,” Harris said in the speech.
- Shyamala Gopalan
Harris consistently attributes her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer scientist who emigrated from India, for her success. In her Inauguration speech she said, “To the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris who is always in our hearts. When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment.”
While Vice President Harris makes a strong effort to honor the women who came before her, she doesn’t forget about the little girls she has inspired and the women who will come after. In her post-election speech she said, “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you have a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.”