November 7, 2020

News organizations were ready. Alongside coverage of Joe Biden’s official win, stories immediately flooded out noting all the firsts encompassed by his running mate, Kamala Harris.

Harris stressed throughout the presidential campaign that her story as the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica is the American story. The list of firsts is long: Not only is she the first woman elected U.S. vice president, she is the first Black woman, the first South Asian woman and the first graduate of a historically Black university. She’s also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, a century-old organization with 300,000 members that has a record of promoting social activism.

For women of color, Harris is about to become an even more prominent role model.

Tal Kopan reported for the San Francisco Chronicle: “She has been the first person like her to hold every office she has ever won. She was the first woman and person of color to serve as San Francisco district attorney. She was the first woman and first Black person to be attorney general of California. She was the first Black senator from California.”

There’s much expectation that Harris’s ascension will lead to change. Martin Reynolds, co-executive director of the Maynard Institute, tweeted, “systemic racism is woven in the fabric of our nation” so no individual should be the only person counted on to fix it.

Another history-making instance with Harris’s election is that her husband, lawyer Douglas Emhoff, will be the first man to be called America’s second gentleman.

With Rep. Nancy Pelosi expected to be reelected as speaker of the House, a woman will be second in the line of presidential succession.

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Doris Truong is responsible for overseeing Poynter’s teaching across platforms. Her diversity portfolio includes helping newsrooms better cover their communities and providing the resources to…
Doris Truong

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