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From The Hilltop to the White House

By Semira Robinson, Staff Reporter

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden announced his selection of Kamala Harris to serve with him as the Democratic nominee for vice president on August 11, 2020. The two have been brewing a relationship more publicly over the recent months, leading to speculation that this decision was essentially inevitable. Other notable politicians that Biden considered included Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren and others. This is undoubtedly a historical event for not only our Howard community, but the entire nation as well. 

“The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic, has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change. America is crying out for leadership,” Harris stated in her speech in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday afternoon.

After serving for eight years as vice president under the Obama Administration, the Democratic presidential nominee is a seasoned 77 year-old politician. Biden and Harris are hopeful that they will be able to solidify a lead over the current administration with key demographics including minorities and women. With only twelve weeks left before the election, now is the best time to research Harris to estimate what a future with her leadership could bring. Understanding in depth what our leaders stand for and intend to implement in our society is an important concern for all citizens.

The foundation of Harris’ interests and values came from a hardworking and driven household of Indian and Jamacain descent. Despite her parents divorce at a young age, they instilled in her the importance of confidence, education, and compassion. Her parents were both activists and met during the Civil Rights Movement. Her mother, Shyamala Harris, worked as a cancer researcher at UC Berkeley and professor at McGill University in Canada. Her father, Donald Harris, is a renowned economist and was a professor at Stanford University. 

During her time as an undergraduate Bison in the class of 1986, Harris studied political science and economics. Like many Howard students, she was an exceptionally hard worker and social activist. From numerous weekends of protesting against apartheid in South Africa at the Washington, D.C. Mall to sit-in in administrative buildings to protest the expulsion of former Hilltop Newspaper editor Janice McKnight. Harris went on to continue a legacy of many prestigious Black women when she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Taylor Davis, a senior marketing major, is serving as the 82nd Miss Howard University. She sees herself in Harris from her role as a HBCU student, student leader, and sorority sister. “Kamala Harris’s selection as the Vice President nominee means more to me than I can articulate with words. We have a Black, female, and HBCU raised candidate running for Vice President and that is so important for young black students to see. I’m hoping that more people will begin to respect and appreciate all of our institutions and organizations that were created to advance the Black community. As an AKA and as a Bison, I am ecstatic. Kamala Harris is a prime example of why it is important to invest in Black-curated spaces and infrastructure. They produce real results.”

Countless millennials and first time voters are now left to wonder how the manifestation of the first woman and person of color serving as vice president of the United States would impact their future. This nomination has sparked some confusion and controversy within Democratic and other leftist groups. Although many are optimistic for the selected Democratic vice president nominee, others worry where her intentions truly lie and if it is in all of the people’s best interests. 

Hannah Bessette is a junior political science major and president of the International Affairs Society  “ I feel grateful to be witnessing a historical event. I never imagined I would be in a position to witness some kind of representation of my own identity in such a high office while attending her alma mater. But that doesn’t for a moment take away from the fact of her largely imperfect politics.” 

“Part of me resents her history as a prosecutor and as a hypocrite, but all of that distaste goes away when I remember the prospective alternative leadership. I stand on the fact that we deserve much better than this election could ever bring us. Overall I think we’re allowed to say “ What progress!” And still feel like it came too late, too moderate. We’re allowed to say she’s not radical enough when “radical” is defending the rights of those domestic and abroad and furthering systematically disenfranchised groups. Real resistance and real revolutionary change requires stubbornness.”

Kamala Harris has proved through her previous roles as Senate and the Democratic primary debates that she is capable of effectively negating the current administration. She even challenged  Biden at one point during the debates about his stance on civil rights in the past. It is important to welcome and understand that this is history in the making. Howard is obviously not an Ivy League university, yet the Howard legacy is reaching new heights. This election year will be the first time since 1984 that both names on the Democratic ticket were not Ivy League alumni. 

Even if one does not entirely agree with Biden and Harris, even if one does not believe either ticket for the 2020 election is adequate, it is still our civic duty to vote based on one’s belief of who will restore our nation’s current turmoil. Those in positions on leadership are held to a higher standard and are often overly scrutinized. Just as how the conservative press attacked Michelle Obama during Barack Obama’s presidency, they will attack Kamala Harris through political cartoons, broadcast journalism, or print news publications to make her seem overly aggressive or incompetent. It is similarly expected that Harris will be subject to many racist and misogynistic attacks. As a community, as fair and just voters, we need to hold our past, current, and future leaders accountable.  

“ I think this nomination will be beneficial in the shift in focus we’re seeing towards HBCUs. This year we’ve seen several top athletic recruits commit to HBCUs, and we see more students than ever considering HBCUs to further their education during this 2020 movement. Having the first HBCU graduate on a big ticket will let the rest of the country know what we already know. I expect to see a lot more publicity and funding towards our schools,” Desiree Parker, a senior criminology major and the curriculum coordinator for Just Us, said.

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