“I’m very proud to be a Black woman, very proud to witness this important time in history given the huge divide that we have in our nation right now,” she said. Ms. Hunter added that she was “encouraged that we can continue to have our little Black girls and other girls of color feel encouraged like they can do whatever they want to do and they can be whatever they want to be.”
In Atlanta on Saturday, a celebration was underway on Auburn Avenue, the traditional and spiritual heart of the city’s African-American community. It sits beneath a towering mural of John Lewis, the pioneering civil rights leader who represented Congress for 33 years before his death in July. Some rode up on bicycles and toasted glasses of champagne. Others broke into song.
“It’s opened so many doors for so many little girls who feel like they have been silenced or told they couldn’t be who they are,” said Nikema Williams, who has been elected to succeed Mr. Lewis, as she stood in a parking lot below the mural. “So as a Black woman in politics, this means the world.”
Of Mr. Lewis, Ms. Williams said: “I know that he is somewhere doing a happy dance.”
Ms. Harris, like Ms. Williams, is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Soon, two dozen other sorority members formed a circle under the mural and burst into one of their sorority’s signature songs:
Hearts that are loyal
And hearts that are true
By merit and culture
We strive and we do
Things that are worthwhile …
Charisma Deberry, a spokeswoman for the Omega Omicron Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, in San Diego, said Ms. Harris’s victory “validates the American dream for me.”
“Throughout my life, I’ve always been teased for being ‘bossy,’ assertive and ‘talking white,” Ms. Deberry said, “because I had big goals and vision for my life. Today, I am proud to be a bossy Black woman. Just like the vice president of the United States, Senator Kamala Harris.”
Rick Rojas and Richard Fausset reported from Atlanta, Audra D. S. Burch from Wilton Manors, Fla., and Evan Nicole Brown from Los Angeles.