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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. Yamiche Alcindor reports.
It was exactly one year ago today that California Senator Kamala Harris announced she was dropping out of the presidential race, citing a lack of funds.
Now the vice president-elect is poised to break barriers on multiple fronts, inspiring many along the way.
Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.
In her victory speech, vice president-elect Kamala Harris spoke to the historic nature of her election.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris:
While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Sen. Kamala Harris:
Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
Harris represents many firsts, the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American vice president-elect. She's the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.
She proudly emphasized her roots with fellow Indian-American Mindy Kaling, cooking dosa during her own presidential primary campaign. She is also a graduate of Howard University and is a member of the nation's first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Today, she often celebrates her connection to historically Black colleges and universities, sometimes dancing with marching bands on the trail. It's a milestone that inspired many.
We invited viewers to weigh in on what her historic inauguration will mean to them. Hundreds of people responded.
I was from the U.K. I was only able to vote in this election as I became a citizen last year. So, to be a part of something, and then to see myself up there, it's just amazing.
I feel like I can breathe because I feel like I can be hopeful for the first time in a very long time. I'm proud to see someone who represents so many different facets of who we are sitting at the table.
Aarti Metha :
For the Indian community, it's very exciting that we feel more accepted as immigrants.
I think we have an opportunity on so many issues, civil rights, climate, the coronavirus, the economy, to actually help people.
And across social media, young girls dressed up as Harris, including her signature Converse sneakers.
Tonya Vivian's daughter, Ophelia, was one of them.
She's 2 years old. She has no idea what's going on, and I can't wait to share with her as she gets older.
This definitely resonates differently. As a Black woman, it really means everything. It means that anything is truly possible for her. And I just am excited about the future. And that's just something I haven't felt in so long.
Even before this moment, Harris had broken many barriers. She was the first Black woman to serve as attorney general of California. She was only the second Black woman to serve as a United States senator.
The first was Carol Moseley Braun, who told me it's hard to express just how excited she is about Harris' election.
Carol Moseley Braun:
Frankly, for me, on a personal level, it really is a matter of coming to grips with the fact that I really was more of a role model and not an object lesson, because, I mean, right now, there are more women in the United States Congress than ever before. And I think that's just going to continue.
Yet, even in her excitement, Moseley Braun added that Harris should ready herself for an onslaught of criticism and perhaps unfair expectations.
Carol Moseley Bruan:
We will not have really arrived until Kamala Harris gets treated like any other vice president in history, like Dan Quayle, Mike Pence, you name it, and not have to rise to the occasion of being something unusual.
And we haven't gotten there yet, but we will. And she's setting the setting the table to make it happen.
In Harris' August speech, after her selection was announced, she paid tribute to the women who came before her.
These women inspired us to pick up the torch and fight on, women like Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley, and the great Shirley Chisholm.
We're not often taught their stories, but, as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.
Democrats in Philadelphia celebrated the win. But representation isn't all that matters, says local organizer Candace McKinley.
It's nice to have people that look like me. You might have family members that look like mine, but if they're not actually fighting for my community and for policies and laws that will actually help my community, then it's — that doesn't mean much to me.
Eddie Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell distinguished university professor of African American studies at Princeton University.
Eddie Glaude Jr.:
I think Black women need to claim this victory and, in doing so, insist on having and wielding actual power.
And so this representational moment is important. The symbolic significance of a Black woman being the vice president of the United States is important, but what we need in our communities right now are policies that will address the suffering that engulfs our communities today.
That's something Harris has promised to do. And, as she looks toward the inauguration, she's already acknowledging the tough road ahead.
As I said the night we won this election, now is when the real work begins, the necessary work, the good work of getting this virus under control, saving lives, and beating this pandemic, and opening our economy responsibly, while rebuilding it so that it works for working people.
It's a tough road being paved for the first time.
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