Video source: YouTube, Associated Press
Kathleen Rine and Alexandra Jaffe
WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Kamala Harris has broken the barrier that has kept people at the top of the U.S. government for more than two centuries when she was sworn in on Wednesday to hold the country’s second-largest post.
Hours after she was sworn in as the first female vice president of the United States – and the first black woman and person of South Asian descent in that role – she embodied at this point the “American aspiration.”
“Even in the dark we not only dream but also do. “Not only do we see what happened, we see what can happen,” she said in a short speech near the Lincoln Memorial. “We are brave, fearless and ambitious. We are fearless in our faith that we will win, that we will rise.” .
For Harris, this day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the rostrum by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, an officer who alone took a crowd of Trump supporters as they tried to break into the Senate during the Capitol uprising, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. , the first colored woman on trial, in the Bible, to once belong to former Supreme Court Justice Turgud Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two new black designers.
Its rise is historic in any context, another point where the stubborn frontier falls away, broadening the notion of what is possible in American politics. But this is especially important because Harris takes office at a time when Americans are battling institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated black and brown communities.
People close to Harris say she will bring an important – and often missing – point of view to the debate on how to overcome the many obstacles the new administration faces.
“In many people’s lives, we have experienced segregation in the United States,” said Latifa Simon, a civil rights activist and longtime friend and ward of Harris. “Now you will have a black woman who will enter the White House not as a guest but as a secondary leader of the free world.”
Harris, a child of immigrants, the stepmother of two children and the wife of a Jew, “carries the story of many Americans whom they have never seen or heard of.”
Later, during the procession to the Vice President’s building, she was led by the orchestra of her alma mater of Howard University and walked, holding the hand of her granddaughter’s niece, as well as with her husband, stepchildren, sister, brother-in-law and nieces.
She then quickly set to work, first chairing the Senate presidency to swear in three new Democratic senators: Raphael Warnack and John Osaf of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California, who replaced Harris.
Harris, 56, is stepping down as vice president just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she served as attorney general and San Francisco district attorney. She expected to work with the White House, led by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump’s victory quickly shook the country’s capital and laid the groundwork for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her own presidential bid failed, but her growth continued when President Joe Biden chose her as a partner.
On Wednesday night, she urged Americans to join Biden’s call for “the courage to see beyond the crisis, to do what is difficult, to do what is good.”
When Trump was absent at the inauguration, Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff took on a symbolic commitment to accompany former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence of the Capitol. This is a gesture that is usually performed by future and outgoing presidents.
To celebrate the historic day, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Women’s Club, the country’s oldest women’s club for black women, which Harris joined at Howard University, declared Wednesday Kamala Sarah’s Day. Members of the women’s society, who watched the festivities across the country, were dressed in pearls, like Harris, and in pink and green.
“There is an honor that I cannot put into words,” said Elizabeth Shelby, a member of the Alpha Psi branch of the Nursing Society, which observed from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It’s such a joy to know that she’s one of us, that she represents us ”.
In his inaugural address, Biden reflected on a march for women’s suffrage in 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, during which some marchers were attacked.
“Today we celebrate the oath of the first woman in American history to be elected to the national post, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me that can’t change, “Biden said.
As vice president, Harris will expand the definition of who gains power in American politics, said Martha C. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and author of Avant-Garde: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won Voting, and insisted on equality for everyone. “
People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will need to learn what it means to graduate from a historically black college and university, not an Ivy League school. Jones said they will need to understand Harris traditions such as the Hindu celebration of Diwali.
“People will have to adjust to it, not it to them,” Jones said.
Her election as vice president should be just the beginning of the nomination of black women to leadership positions, Jones said, especially after the role black women played in organizing and engaging voters in the November election.
“We will all learn what happens to those abilities and understandings of black women in politics when those abilities and understandings are allowed to govern,” Jones said.
Raine reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press journalist Christine Fernando of Chicago contributed.
Source: AP News
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