By Morgan Minix, Howard University News Service
As Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumnus, was sworn in as the 49th Vice-President of the United States, her election to the second highest office in the nation, symbolized for many in the Howard University community a great achievement.
Harris was sworn in along with President Joe Biden, who became the 46th President of the United States at the inauguration at Washington D.C.
Vice-President Harris made history becoming the first woman elected as Vice President as well as the first African-American and Asian-American person to hold the office.
Vice-President Harris’ election was celebrated within the Howard University community as she became the first Howard University graduate and first graduate of a Historically Black College or University to reach that level of elected office.
Gabrielle Gray, Ph.D. put into perspective the importance of Kamala Harris’ ascendency from Howard University to the second highest seat of American power.
“She is an example of how success does not require detachment from Black institutions or assimilation into white America. Harris’ election has given me a renewed faith in our democracy, knowing that it is taking a turn, although with pushback, towards an America that is starting to live in the values it was founded on,” she said.
Not only did the election of Vice-President Harris affirm the importance of Black institutions, it boosted their power. “I always say your degree is your currency, and our currency just increased in value,” said Charlie Lewis (B.B.A. ‘89), president of the Howard University Alumni Association. “Howard has always been on the forefront in the business, entertainment and political world, but now others can see that Howard is filling the gap of Black leaders with Harris at the top of that ticket. To me, it takes the age-old criticism of ‘what does going to an HBCU do for you?’ out of the equation.”
Harris, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., also put Black Fraternal organizations in the headlines. Willie-Lloyd Reeves, a two-time Howard graduate and co-chair of Howard University’s 50th class reunion, said of the Vice-President’s connection to Black Greek Life, “I was elated. Not only is she an alumna, but she is also a member of the divine nine. We had that bond.”
Harris graduated from the University in 1986 and studied economics and political science. Throughout her own presidential campaign and her campaign on the Biden-Harris ticket, she has continuously emphasised the importance of her Howard University education calling it, “one of the most important aspects of my life.”
For many in the Howard community her election is a mark of the quality the university produces and a wider confirmation of the ability of Howard students.