People around the word are celebrating President Elect Joe Biden’s big win today – but not only for political reasons.
Senator Kamala Harris will soon become the vice president of the United States, and in doing so, she will bring a lot of firsts to the position. With Senator Harris standing for communities who have never been represented in such high levels of government, there is incredible cause for celebration.
Let’s take a look at the top five most significant “firsts” that Kamala Harris brings with her to a historic vice presidency.
1. First woman to ever serve as Vice President
After 244 years of American presidencies and vice presidencies, the US is finally gaining its first woman to serve as vice president. Women have been running for president since 1872, when Victoria Woodhull became the first female presidential candidate. Since then, there has only been one female major party presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton (2016), and only three female major party vice presidential nominees, Geraldine Ferraro (1984), Sarah Palin (2008), and our latest, Kamala Harris (2020). Kamala Harris will be the first woman ever to serve in either of the two highest offices in America.
2. First woman of color to serve as Vice President
The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Kamala Harris brings a diverse background to the vice presidential office. Although Harris will not be the first person of color to serve as Vice President (with Charles Curtis, 3/8 Indigenous heritage, taking that title), Kamala Harris is making big strides for intersectional representation becoming the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Scholars like Niambi Carter of Howard University underscore just how significant this is: “I think many times when we talk about women, we’re talking about White women…a lot of times when we’re talking about Blacks, we’re talking about Black men.” (Washington Post) Kamala Harris will bring much needed representation for women of color as she takes lead in the highest levels of American government.
3. First Asian American to serve as Vice President
Harris’ Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, was the star figure in the Vice President Elect’s early life, and brought her up with great respect for her Indian heritage. In Harris’ acceptance speech for the vice presidential nomination, she even gave a special mention to her “Chithis” (Tamil for aunties), garnering support from much of the South Asian American constituency. South Asian Americans are not the only ones celebrating this representation; India is also celebrating today, seeing Kamala’s election to the second highest political office in America as good news for those hoping to strengthen Indo-US relations.
4. First Black American to serve as VP
Kamala Harris was the first Black American to run for vice president on a major party ticket, and is going to be the first Black American to serve as vice president. She is also the first graduate of a historically Black college or university – and the first member of a Black sorority (AKA) – to run for and serve as vice president. At a time where race relations and racial inequality are critical issues and a top priority for American policy, Harris will be a great asset to the Biden presidency.
5. Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, will be America’s first “second gentleman”
Will he be the “second gentleman,” or is it “second man,” or “dude?” (we’re pretty sure it’s the former). We’ve never had one before – a male spouse of a vice president or president sets a precedent. Not only that, but Doug Emhoff is also the first Jewish spouse of a vice president or president.
As Harris’ mother told her daughter, “Kamala you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,” the Senator is positioned to walk the first steps for the communities she represents in America’s highest levels of leadership.