Her small, round eyes were glued to the television. She watched intently as the woman on the screen walked toward the podium. She looked down at her brown skin and smiled. Turning toward her mother, she proudly proclaimed, “She looks just like me, Mama!”
On Jan. 20, 2021, little girls across the nation watched for the very first time as a woman was sworn in to the office of vice president. Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first Black person and the first South Asian to ever become vice president of the United States. Her vice presidency marks a monumental milestone in United States history. Centuries past the country’s founding, there is finally someone other than a white man in office.
Harris’ parents were immigrants. They came to the United States from India and Jamaica. On Oct. 20, 1964, they gave birth to Harris in Oakland, California.
Harris received an education from Howard University and the University of California, where she studied law. She served as the elected district attorney of San Francisco, as California’s attorney general and as a United States senator before becoming vice president to President Joe Biden.
Harris humbly credits some success to her mother, who raised her and her sister, Maya Harris, to speak out against injustice and to work diligently toward their goals. Her mother, a breast cancer scientist, remains one of Harris’ biggest inspirations.
In an interview with White House officials, Harris shared that her mother pushed her to succeed but also challenged her to do good for all people. “My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,” said Harris.
Even though she is the first female vice president, Harris does not plan to be the only one. “Every little girl watching tonight, sees that this is a country of possibilities,” said Harris in a public address.
Just over a hundred years after women were officially granted the right to vote in the United States, and over 55 years after women of color gained the right to vote, a Black, South Asian woman has taken office.
A century ago, women were fighting for their voices to be heard through the voting process. Now, they have been given what they could only dream of — a woman in office.
Many fellow Democratic women politicians, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hillary Clinton, praised Harris’ accomplishments as the first woman vice president of the United States.
AOC said in an interview, “It’s really remarkable, and we can’t be what you can’t see – this is very often said – and it’s so amazing that so many little girls are growing up with this being a normal for them.”
Clinton posted a photo of Harris posing with two of her grand nieces on Instagram. The photo was captioned, “It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today—a woman sworn in to the vice presidency—will seem normal, obvious, ‘of course’ to Kamala’s grand-nieces as they grow up. And they will be right.”
As both of these politicians pointed out, Harris is offering the women of the United States something they have never been gifted before: representation.
Now that she holds the second-highest position in the United States government, Harris is an emblem of hope to the nation’s women. She is a tangible example that women can dream big and achieve large goals.
As historic as inauguration day was, and as peculiar as it was to see a woman sworn into the vice president’s office, Harris, AOC, Clinton and many more American feminists hope that one day, seeing a woman on Inauguration Day will be a common sight.
The dream is that little girls who watched Inauguration Day for the very first time will not question why a woman is standing before the podium, but instead, will smile knowing that they too have the ability to accomplish greatness.
Kamala Harris, the women of the United States are thankful you are the first. Now we must continue the fight so you will not be the last.