NEW YORK — She strode across the Delaware stage, the proud and regal embodiment of what Maya Angelou once called “the hope and dream of the slave.”
She was Olivia Pope and Michelle Obama, a supermodel in suffragette white.
The venue speakers blared Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” and the vice president-elect of the United States looked like she wanted to dance, but she didn’t, leaving that task to all the proud Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members and Howard University alums who were soaking in the moment.
Instead, Kamala Harris, the first woman to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, just smiled and waved, and let the song’s lyrics tell the story.
There’s so many-a girls/ I hear you been running/ From the beautiful queen/ That you could be becoming/ You can look at my palm/ And see the storm coming/ Read the book of my life/ And see I’ve overcome it
Make no mistake, Harris belonged on that stage Saturday night if for no other reason than that this is America.
But she belonged there in large part because of women who looked like her, dark-skinned and caramel-complexed mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and aunts who have for decades been as dedicated to the Democratic Party as they have been to progress and justice in America.
“Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy,” Harris said.
Just because the length of your hair ain’t long/ And they often criticize you for your skin tone/ Wanna hold your head high/ Cause you’re a pretty woman/ Get your runway stride home/ And keep going
This isn’t to sell short the other parts of Harris’ heritage, the South Asian and Jamaican blood that runs proudly through her veins.
The purpose here is to underline and put in bold the historical, patriotic sacrifices of Black women, from those who walked instead of riding the bus during the Montgomery Bus Boycott while the male church pastors got all the credit, to the 91% of Black women, according to an NBC exit poll, who turned out for Biden this election season.
Just like an endorsement from South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn saved Biden’s campaign during the primaries, the political groundwork laid by Stacey Abrams was directly responsible for putting Georgia in the Democratic column.
In 2018, Abrams fell just short of becoming the nation’s first Black woman governor. After that race, she founded a voting rights organization called Fair Fight that raised millions of dollars, registered hundreds of thousands of voters and helped refocus the party on Georgia.
Not only was Georgia on the verge of joining Biden’s win column, but the state’s two U.S. Senate seats are heading to a runoff after Democratic candidates mounted strong challenges to Republican incumbents. The outcome is likely to determine which party controls the Senate.
Feelin’ great because the light’s on me/ Celebrating the things that everyone told me/ Would never happen but God has put his hands on me/ And ain’t a man alive could ever take it from me
Harris, who had also run for president, was Biden’s toughest critic on the campaign trail, calling out the former vice president for his stance on school busing, and his willingness to compromise with segregationists in Congress. But Harris was rewarded for her tough talk, and praised her new boss for his “audacity” to pick a woman to be his partner.
“Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” Harris said. “And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before. And we will applaud you every step of the way.”
Black women, we applaud you. The nation is in your debt.
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