WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris is the first woman, African-American and Indian-American Vice President of the United States.
Vice President Harris was officially sworn in Wednesday afternoon on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Moments later, Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States by Chief Supreme Court John Roberts.
Former Vice President Mike Pence stood in for President Donald Trump and sat nearby during the ceremony.
A 1986 graduate of Howard University, Harris double-majored in political science and economics. She spent her time at Howard University growing her knowledge of politics and issues facing the country, interning as a mailroom clerk for California Sen. Alan Cranston. Harris was also a member of the debate team, joined Alpha Kappa Alpha and protested in D.C. against Apartheid in South Africa.
The 55-year-old Harris was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate in June, and her fellow Howard alums at the time praised the choice.
“Words cannot say how excited I am, and I continue to be excited about the possibility of the future and about what Kamala can offer to this country,” said Harris' sorority sister Carla Mannings back in June.
Harris was sworn in as a senator in 2017, becoming the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history. She has been a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader who currently serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on the Budget.
"As Sen. Harris embarks upon this new chapter in her life, and in our country’s history, she is poised to break two glass ceilings in our society with one fell swoop of her Howard hammer," Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said back in June. "The HBCU community and I will be watching."
Howard University awarded Harris the Outstanding Alumni Award for her extraordinary work in the fields of law and public service in 2006.
Howard University issued the following statement:
Dear Howard University Community,
A new dawn has broken in America.
On behalf of the entire Howard University Community, I extend a sincere congratulations to President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. His life abounds with examples of the power of perseverance in overcoming a childhood disability, family poverty, and personal tragedy to devote his life to public service as a United States Senator, Vice President, and now prepares to assume the highest office in the land. Senator Kamala Harris has swung her Howard hammer and shattered the proverbial glass ceiling into pieces that will not be put back together. In an election that saw more Americans cast a ballot than ever before, a majority of Americans have selected Vice President Biden to be the 46th President and our distinguished alumna Senator Harris to serve as the 49th Vice President of the United States.
From her first time running for representative of the Liberal Arts Student Council as a freshman at Howard University, to the nearly 20 years she broke through barriers serving as an elected official for the residents of California, Senator Kamala Harris has demonstrated her unmatched strength, determination and leadership in fighting for the people. As the new Vice President-elect, we know she will continue advancing her vision of a nation where all people – regardless of race, creed, gender, background, or ethnicity – have access to equitable opportunities to grow and succeed. At a time when the Black community is coping with the disproportionate social and economic impacts of COVID-19, a global reckoning with systemic racism, and the loss of some of our cultural and social icons, we are proud to call Howard University alumna Kamala Harris a monumental catalyst for collective joy and positive change.
Regardless of who you voted for I hope you would get to know HERstory, for it is indeed an important testament of what is possible in our imperfect nation even as we continue our work to build a more perfect Union for all.
In Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA