Kamala Harris's Vice Presidency Is A Dream Long Faught and Overdue

From Shirley Chisholm's 1972 Presidential run, today's celebration was a long time coming.

Kamala Harris's Vice Presidency Is A Dream Long Faught and Overdue

There’s a belief that sometimes the first person through a door is breaking down the barriers for the next person to realize the dream. Brooklyn, NY born Shirley Anita Chisholm was the first Black woman ever elected to serve in Congress in 1968 - serving seven terms for New York’s 12th congressional district. On January 25th, 1972, Chisholm declared her bid to run for the Presidency. She was both the first African-American candidate for a major party and the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination. If only she was alive today to see Kamala Harris become the 49th Vice President of the United States - I bet she would be proud.

Chisholm stated in her address: "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 equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people and my presence before you symbolizes a new era in American political history."

Chisholm was more than just a mode of symbolism. She ran to win. We now live in a world where a Black and South Asian girl from Oakland, California can grow up to graduate from an HBCU college, become an attorney general, a US Senator, and the First Vice President of the United States. However, we have to ask if we are any closer to equality and protection for Black women than when Shirley Chisholm ran for office? During Chisholm’s run, there were death threats, and she had very little support from her Black male counterparts. Black women and women across the United States operate within a society that still doesn’t really get it. That doesn’t value their strength and make it where they can see how great their intelligence and spirit can go.

Even as many celebrate today’s proceedings, it’s hard to not notice the ominous nature surrounding the ceremonies. There were no crowds. Up to 25,000 troops from the National Guard closed much of the route to the White House off because of what happened two weeks prior and continued threats of violence. The coronavirus pandemic still rages on with the monument to 400,000 lives lost at the National Mall. As we watched from our homes, the celebrations feels as though there are some restraints.

In Langston Hughes’s poem, ‘Harlem,’ he pondered what happened to a dream deferred. Unfortunately, with progress especially with racial progression, there has always been a violent brushback. Before we begin to investigate the long strands of healing, we have to come to terms with this. That racial tension and white supremacy are not as easy to clean up as the Capitol building offices or broken windows. Shirley Chisholm’s confidence in a country that wants anything but that for Black women paved the way for what happened today. The end goal is not to keep having firsts - it’s cultivating a safe and tolerant world where Black women and women of color can thrive. Where they don’t have to have celebrations in the aftermath of racist tantrums.

Two weeks ago, the Capitol building was subjected to a racist and vile attempt at insurrection from a group of people feeling that their hold on the country was slipping away from them. Today, a woman of Black and Asian descent walked through those same doors with her head held up high. Young girls and women of all races, creeds, and religions all over the country witnessed what you can do, ignoring the status quo., we took a major step within a turbulent period - but, that’s not the end goal. It wasn’t for Shirley Chisholm. It may not be for Vice President Kamala Harris. Today, it’s the Vice Presidency. Tomorrow, let’s make it be the Presidency. Yesterday’s broken windows are today’s broken glass ceiling.