“Chucks and pearls” was a trending topic across the nation Wednesday, as women donned the shoes and jewelry in an homage to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris was sworn in as the first female U.S. vice president and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to fill the role.
The day was symbolic to many, including Aledo resident Piccola Washington, a lifelong member of the NAACP, who said seeing another woman of color be elected to the second highest position in the U.S. is “another milestone” in her life.
“Vice President Harris gives our children hope in their future. It lets them know they can accomplish whatever their hearts desire. It lets all of us know that our prayers and work have not been in vain because we see a Black woman being the success of her dream,” she said. “Did you not hear the loud sound of jubilation as she broke the bearer today? It came from young, middle aged and seniors who thought the day of relief would never come.
“The election of Vice President Harris means there is light at the end of the tunnel that will enable our young people, and those who are still striving to succeed in their profession, more of a determination.”
Stephanie Stubbs, a full-time nursing student in Parker County and the mother of two daughters, describes it as a turning point for Black women.
“As we know, there has never been a woman to hold this high and prestigious office and Kamala, being a woman of color, this is truly a tide-changing event,” she said. “Black women have often been devalued by society because of their uniqueness and strength. But with this change, it can represent a shining example of hope and unlimited possibilities for Black girls and women both now and in the future.”
For Harris, the day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color on the court, on a Bible that once belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two emerging Black designers.
“Jan. 20, 2021, was a vivid reminder that the storm is passing over and the sun will shine again in America,” said Mary George, a lifelong Parker County resident who serves as the political affairs chair for the Weatherford/Parker County NAACP. “Today we not only saw an Indian/Black woman standing where no other woman has ever stood — history was made.
“We say ‘thank you Kamala’ for being a positive example for so many women around the world. As you work hand in hand with President Joseph Biden, the stage is set for a promising future for America.”
Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she’d served as attorney general and as San Francisco’s district attorney. Her own presidential bid fizzled, but her rise continued when Biden chose her as his running mate.
“Without fear, [Biden] nominated — and the American people elected — the first woman of color to be our vice president of the United States,” said Felicia Lewis, an Aledo resident and mother of two. “I love her because she looks like me, and my daughter, and my aunts. I am proud of the possibilities that she brings to the table to women across America. She speaks to the souls of women who have been marginalized, demeaned and underestimated.”
Just a few months ago, the U.S. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. A long line of women have worked to put cracks in the glass ceiling until now, said Lacey McGowan, an adjunct history instructor at Weatherford College.
“[Harris] has done what many women before her tried to do, and, in her own right, she has paved the way for future generations of women of all colors, nationalities, religions, identities and backgrounds to forge ahead with the knowledge that there are no insurmountable obstacles,” McGowan said. “Vice President Harris said it best herself, ‘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.’
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are one step closer because of the realities that Kamala Harris has made possible.”
The transition of a new administration in the White House comes after a year filled with conflict all over the nation, including a major push for racial equality and justice. Wednesday’s events are a step in the right direction, but there is still a long road ahead, McGowan said.
“From the moment the first enslaved people were brought to this land, the country has struggled with racial injustice,” she said. “This country has seen ill treatment of the Native Americans, the failure of Reconstruction, the United States government banning Chinese immigrants in 1882, immigration quotas in the 1920s, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, updates to immigration quotas in the 60s, 80s, and 90s, and the list goes on.”
McGowan said Biden’s Cabinet picks — of which Biden has stressed his wanting of diversity — also sends an important message.
“These appointments are important because this puts him side by side with people that represent communities whose voices have been silenced for, at least, the last four years,” she said. “If you watched the inauguration of President Biden and heard his speech, the one recurring theme is ‘unity.’ He wants the country to heal from the divisiveness. He wants bipartisanship in the government and people to begin to trust the government, and those that run it, again.
“No matter your political leanings, I think we can agree that what he is striving for is needed.”
If Biden’s nominations are approved, America could soon see its first Native American cabinet secretary, first female national intelligence director, first Latino homeland security chief, first openly gay cabinet member and more.
“With a spirit of unity, President Biden has called the brightest minds from varied backgrounds and histories to offer hope, civility and good work to our nation,” Lewis said. “Joe and Kamala have released the possibility of hope for this country. Because of hope, we are smiling more, our shoulders are relaxed and we have started to heal and exhale.
“I feel thankful to God that we made the choice to come together — and hopeful.”