The Detroit cultural impact of Kamala Harris becoming Vice President

Posted at 4:49 AM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 06:48:16-05

(WXYZ) — It's a historic day for our nation as the first woman and first person of color to service as Vice President of the United States prepares to take office.

VP-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in just before noon on Wednesday and is accomplishing many firsts.

Local groups are excited but not surprised, described Harris' ascension to the second-highest office in the U.S., a first in many regards.

Prior to her political career, Harris joined two institutions proud to have her among their ranks.

As a Howard University graduate, she's a Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) alumnus.

"We know as graduates that our schools have always prepared us," Sean Rouse, the president of the Detroit HBCU network said.

Harris is also an Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), another historical organization, the first intercollegiate African American Greek-lettered sorority.

"I think a lot of times, what people do, they say, 'She's a woman. She's a woman of color.' But what's important to recognize is she's a qualified woman," Carrie J. Clark, the Great Lakes Regional Director for AKA said.

Boh Clark and Rouse say Harris' rise heightens the profiles for institutions already equipped with track records of success.

"Our purpose still stands today as it did 113 years ago, and so we're all about service," Clark said. "But at the same time, our purpose is to make sure that we're raising leaders. and we're developing leaders. and so I think she's a great product of the story of Alpha Kappa Alpha."

"We also cannot overlook all the HBCU graduates who significant in the Biden-Harris election," Rouse added.

While taking time to appreciate a historic moment, the groups acknowledge the requisite for accountability for any elected official.

"I think as HBCU grads, we hold ourselves to a higher standard," Rouse said.

"I don't think anybody's going to give her a pass. I think actually she's gonna probably get an even more difficult time because she is a woman, she is a woman of color," Clark added. "So she's sure she knows exactly what she's up against and I think she's going to prevail."