Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest person ever elected to the US Congress, has celebrated the victory of Kamala Harris as the first black woman vice-president elect, saying: You cannot be, what you cannot see.”
The morning after Ms Harris appeared alongside Joe Biden to celebrate their victory over Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the New York congresswoman said it was a dramatic development for many young women, especially those of colour.
“It's really incredible. For so many of us, especially women, we have grown up - and I know my entire childhood - we grew up being told that women are too emotional and that this country would never elect a black president,” she said, speaking on CNN.
“Luckily, that happened with the election of Barack Obama. But now we’ve elected a woman of colour, and no less a black woman, to the second-highest seat in the land.”
Speaking on Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, Mr Harris, the senator from California, congratulated the supporters of herself and Mr Biden.
“You delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and the truth,” she said.
“We, the people, have the power to build a better future. And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.”
Ms Harris, 56, a former prosecutor who ran her own campaign for the presidency and famously clashed with Mr Biden at one of the first Democratic debates, is the first woman vice president-elect, the first black woman to occupy that position and the first woman of South Asian ancestry to do so.
Indeed, even in 2020, there have been just four women whose names have been on the top tickets for major parties - Geraldine Ferraro, who was Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984, Sarah Palin in 2008, Hillary Clinton in 2016, and now Ms Harris.
In 1996 and again in 2000, Winona LaDuke, an indigenous American, was running mate for Ralph Nader, when he sought the presidency for the Green Party.
This year, the Greens’ vice presidential candidate was Angela Walker, a 46-year-old African American activist from Milwaukee.
As Ms Ocasio-Cortez pointed out on Sunday morning, with Donald Trump still not even conceding defeat, let alone reach out with a message of congratulations, the club of which Ms Harris is part of remains very small indeed.
“It's really remarkable, and we can't be what you can't see - this is very often said - and it's so amazing that so many little girls are growing up with this being a normal for them.”
Sone commentators have suggested Mr Biden only decided to select Ms Harris or another woman of colour as his running mate, after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis this summer, triggered widespread demonstrations for racial justice, and a forced the country into a moment of self-examination.
While he had long ago pledged himself to picking a woman vice presidential candidate, for some time it appeared he would opt for either Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren.
Yet, nobody has suggested Ms Harris is simply there for symbolic reasons. Indeed, given it is all but certain he will only serve one term at most, Mr Biden may have helped secure America’s first female president, one who is a black woman.
Christina Greer, a Professor of Political Science at New York’s Fordham University, told The Independent : “We're only 52 years from Shirley Chisholm becoming the first black woman elected to Congress.”
She added: “And Kamala Harris is only the second black woman US senator. And she's the first woman vice president. She's the first person of colour vice president, she's the first black woman as the vice president.”
She said: “We still have a lot of firsts in this nation. And because Joe Biden has said he'll be essentially a bridge candidate, she'll be a contender for 2024.”
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