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December 4, 2020

What does Kamala Harris as vice president mean to many?

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video featuring reporting by Yamiche Alcindor and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript, click here

Summary: It was exactly one year ago Thursday that California Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the presidential race, citing a lack of funds. Now she is poised to break barriers as the first woman, first Black American and first South-Asian American vice president.

  • In her victory speech following the election, Harris said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
  • While many are inspired by Harris’s historic win, some activists say that representation is not all that matters. These activists say that Harris will be judged based on the laws and executive policies she helps push.

Discussion:

Warm up questions: 

  1. What are some of the ways Harris’s election is historic?
  2. Who is Kamala Harris and what is her personal and professional background?
  3. Why does it matter to some of the people speaking in this video that Harris was elected?
  4. When and Where will Harris be sworn in as vice president?
  5. How is breaking barriers important, according to the people interviewed in this piece?

Focus questions:

  1. Why do you think it’s taken until now for the country to elect a woman as either president or vice president?
  2. Do you think electing the first African American and Indian American woman to the vice presidency matters only for its symbolic value, or do you think Harris’s election will lead to other changes as well?

Media literacy: The interviews in this piece focused on Harris voters and those who are inspired by her win, as well as activists that caution that she’ll be judged more on policy. No interviewees are presented as Trump supporters or Republicans. Do you think this omission is important? Why or why not?

Additional Resources: Biographers often cite Harris’s membership in the country’s first African American sorority at Howard University, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Founded in 1908, AKA was part of the suffrage movement that fought for the right for women to vote and run for office. Over a hundred years later, one of the their members became the first woman to be elected to the vice presidency.

To learn more about Alpha Kappa Alpha, the suffrage movement and the way women have fought for representation in politics and media, browse our site Journalism in Action, which covers the history of journalism in America through multimedia resources.

 

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