As all of the United States, let alone many foreign countries around the globe waited on an official vote count, which ended four days later, the world would finally know which political party the American people chose as the next President and Vice President, on November 7, 2020. With not only winning the state of Pennsylvania but clinching the 270 plus Electoral Votes required to be announced winners: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Not only having a woman nominated again to hold a position for one of the highest elected offices in America, but to have the voice of the people be heard and voted for change in U.S. government that finally reflects the differences within our society. Our country is on a deadly trajectory that includes COVID-19 raging out of control, social and racial injustices that are moving backwards to a Jim Crow era, foreign political tensions, violence and unrest sowed by the current Trump administration. After four long, stressful years, daily turmoil full of lies, political corruption, tweets and death, the voters have had enough of Trump’s ‘fake reality tv show’ antics. I thought America was ready for a female President when Senator Hillary Clinton ran for office, yet sadly disappointed a Madame President or possibly a woman Vice President would never occur in my lifetime as I had hoped for since I was a child.
You see, when I was growing up during 1965 – 1975, there weren’t many women involved in politics let alone women of color. When I first saw a Black woman on tv talking about trying to make changes for poor people I was interested in listening to what she had to say, although I may not have understood everything she was fighting for at my age. I learned her name was Shirley Chisolm who was about fighting for minority education, employment opportunities and social justice awareness during the 1960’s. She argued that tax dollars shouldn’t support war while Americans were hungry, poorly educated, and without adequate housing. Chisholm also supported women’s rights, such as abortion and supported a woman’s right to choose. She also spoke against traditional roles for working women during that era (typically secretaries, teachers, and librarians), her antiwar and women’s lib views made Chisholm very popular with young women attending college. In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black American congresswoman with seven terms in the House of Representatives and became a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969. It was in 1972 that I remember seeing her make the announcement she was going to run as the first female Black Presidential Candidate, something no other Black man or any woman had ever done in America. I thought that just maybe the MLK leadership baton was handed over and would rely on this Black woman to continue the ‘fight for racial injustice’. Sadly, this was a short-lived pipedream that would fade away and be buried along with those who sacrificed their lives fighting for change.
Over the past four years with all the government investigations and proceedings Americans were forced to watch on tv involving the Trump administration, I began to take notice of one Senator named Kamala Harris. Not only did I like her legal style of questioning during these hearings, she was someone who also represented ‘me’ as a woman of color, born of multi-racial ancestry. I read that in 2003 she became the San Francisco District Attorney. Her accomplishments as DA included the launch of the “Back on Track” initiative that offered job training and other educational programs for low-level offenders. Kamala Harris then became California Attorney General in November 2010, making her both the first African/Indian American and first woman to hold the position. She made an impact by pulling out of settlement negotiations from five large banking institutions for improper mortgage practices, eventually scoring a $20 million payout in 2012 for California. Attorney General Harris also refused to defend the Proposition 8 ruling, U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an attempt to appeal the ruling in 2013, to which Harris subsequently officiated the first same-sex marriage in California since Proposition 8. When she eventually decided to enter the race for the 2020 Presidential election, I was rooting for her to be a major nominee as we got closer to November, but again the possibility of a woman VP or President wasn’t meant to be with Senator Harris in my lifetime after she dropped out of the running.
I had a gut feeling that our chaotic political environment was about to change, I knew deep down in my soul that the ‘evil’ that resided in our White House was about to get evicted. I couldn’t wait for November 2020 to get here fast enough and prayed that I kept safe from COVID-19 exposure to witness the moment ‘the change is going to come’. Although it took almost fifty years after 1972, the election results were officially released, a woman voted into power has FINALLY ARRIVED and I couldn’t wait to hear Senator, now Vice-President Elect Harris to give her first speech! On Saturday night at 9:15p.m., November 07, 2020 I watched along with my fellow American voters who made their voices heard, by choosing to make a change for our country with PRIDE, HOPE, FAITH and a lot of TEARS shed as I saw history being made during her speech. Little girls will now grow up to be who they choose to be in life without obstacles just for being a female. Women should also be empowered to continue to fight for change in America side by side with each other no matter what their differences may be. Women no matter who you are or where you come from, please do not let another fifty years, one hundred years or two hundred and fifty years pass before women are able to make a difference in this world politically.
Below are excerpts from Shirley Chisholm’s and Vice President Elect’s first speeches on tv that I was able to experience the positive impact both had during my lifetime.
“I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolize a new era in American political history.” Shirley Chisholm, the first Black female Congresswoman died on January 1, 2005.
Vice President-Elect Harris
“…she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, native American women, who throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy. All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century. One hundred years ago with the 19th Amendment. Fifty-five years ago, with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders. And what a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president. But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.”
Read Kamala Harris’ full speech after historic election win – ABC News (go.com)
This essay was incredibly inspirational. It brought tears to my eyes in the same way while watching VP Kamila Harris give her speech. As a colored women, to see someone that looks like me, soon to be in the white house is an unreal feeling. After 4 long years of hate driving the presidency, I finally have hope in this country.
Thank you for this post.
As a foreigner and someone who is coming from a different background, without such a strong discrimination of women and racial injustice I had to learn a lot once I moved to the United States. This class helped me a lot to understand a political and social picture of the country better. But what helped the best is people. Hearing voices of Americans not only changed the image of the country but changed myself as well. I am happy we have this website where we can read others opinion and get involved into political discussion.
I cried as well when Kamala Harris became VP elect, now I can feel it in my heart how much is in this win. As a woman and an immigrant, I find this moment very inspiring and want to believe that my future children will be able to be whoever they want to be.