Female Firsts: Vice President Kamala Harris Creates History as first Woman of Color in office


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Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, Kamala Devi Harris, daughter of  Indian and Jamaican immigrants, created history as the first-ever woman and person of color to be sworn in as Vice President. Her inauguration is a big step forward for the United States of America. With her rise to the vice presidency, Harris is showing the world that the nation is continuing to move away from its history of gender and racial injustice.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ victory did not come easily. Her triumph came 55 years after policies disenfranchising Black Americans were repealed by the Civil Rights Act, 36 years after the first woman ran on a presidential ticket, and 4 years after the Democrats were devastated by the loss of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination. Regardless, she was able to push past all the barriers in her path and excel.

Kamala Harris’ parents divorced when she was seven, and she and her sister, Maya, were raised in a predominantly Black, lower-middle-class community by their mother. Harris attended both the Hindu temple and the Black Baptist church during her youth, claiming that her mother inspired her to be a confident, proud black woman. 

Harris attended Howard University, one of the most prominent historically black institutions, then sought employment as a lawyer in domestic violence and child neglect cases. And from here, Kamala Harris became a woman of many firsts. In 2003, Harris took the title of the first person of color ever elected to serve as District Attorney in San Francisco. In 2011, she was sworn in as the Attorney General for California, becoming the first woman, African American, and South Asian American to hold that position. By January 2017, Harris became the first African American to represent California in the United States Senate and the second Black woman to serve as a Senator. Kamala Harris’ Vice Presidency is a clear continuation of her legacy of breaking glass ceilings and creating history.

On this historical Inauguration day, all eyes were on Kamala Harris and her distinct purple coat. Harris’ presidential campaign colors were purple and yellow, a tribute to the purple, white, and gold colors of the suffragette movement, who fought for women’s voting rights in the early 20th century. In light of her accomplishments, the Vice President continues to recognize the works of her predecessors while inspiring generations to come. 

“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Vice President Harris said on November 7th, 2020, in her election day acceptance speech, giving thousands of young girls hope. Her grand achievement has paved the way for future generations of women and people of color to run for office.