Kamala Harris makes history as first black woman and South Asian elected VP
| Dexter Morrison
Kamala Harris on Saturday became the first woman to crash through America’s second highest glass ceiling — as well as the first black woman and first South Asian-American to ascend to the White House.
“We’re not often taught their stories,” the Oakland, Calif.-born senator had said in August, speaking of pioneering American women of color as she accepted her party’s vice presidential nomination.
“But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders,” Harris, 56, said, singling out educator Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first black candidate to seek a major party’s presidential nomination, in 1972.
Soon after the race was called on Saturday morning, Harris — who is of Indian and Jamaican heritage — turned her spotlight away, tweeting that the election was not just about her or her running mate.
It was “about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” her tweet concluded. “Let’s get started.”
Harris’s message also featured a rousing montage of the other “framers” of the Constitution — the American people.
The video showed a spectrum of people posing with frames on a variety of landscapes, and featured Ray Charles’ classic rendition of “America.” It had been viewed more than 17 million times in less than two hours.
But her victory was seen an inspiration, particularly among African-American women.
“I’m even more proud that my mother gets to see this and my daughter gets to see this,’ Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on MSNBC, fighting back tears.
Harris was born in 1964 to two parents active in the civil rights movement.
Shyamala Gopalan, from India, and Donald Harris, from Jamaica, met at the University of California, Berkeley, then a hotbed of 1960s activism.
They divorced when Harris and her sister were girls, and Harris was raised by her late mother, whom she considers the most important influence in her life.
In a lighter tweet, Harris on Saturday shared a video of herself outside, in sunglasses and jogging garb, congratulating her running mate with a joyful laugh as an apparent Secret Service man scanned the road in the distance.
“We did it. We did it, Joe,” she laughs. “You’re going to be the next president of the United States.”