How Black women worked to secure Joe Biden’s election as president

One hundred years after passage of the 19th Amendment, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris honored Black American women who “so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.”

Kamala Harris delivers address to nation as vice president-elect



About 90% of Black women voted for President-elect Joe Biden over Donald Trump, making them Democrats’ most loyal bloc. For the past five presidential cycles, they have shown up to the polls at higher rates than any other group.


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This year, experts say their nationwide voter mobilization efforts led to the historic turnout that secured Biden’s victory and that of the first Black, female vice president in the nation’s history.

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But being the “backbone” of American democracy, an identity activists say is rooted in a history of racial oppression and gendered disenfranchisement, comes at a cost.

“It is a tremendous, magnanimous burden to bear,” said Black Voters Matter Fund co-founder LaTosha Brown. “There is a major price to pay there. While we are strong in the world — and I consider myself powerful — I have felt this culture doesn’t give me the grace or space to be weak, to be delicate.”

Kamala Harris looking at the camera: Harris is also the first Black and South Asian American to be elected vice president.

© Provided by USA TODAY
Harris is also the first Black and South Asian American to be elected vice president.

Black women have been the spearhead of social justice movements throughout American history. Although largely ignored in history books until the late 20th century, Black women were a driving force in the abolitionist movement in the mid 1800s.

Then, they led the fight to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965, helping to abolish tactics of voter suppression that targeted Black Americans.

Since the 1940s, after Recy Taylor spoke out against the white men who kidnapped and sexually assaulted her, Black women have also led the charge in addressing sexual violence, paving the way for the #MeToo movement.

“The biggest barriers in this country are rooted in racism and sexism,” Brown said. “Black women sit at the intersection of that.”

As America’s most consistent voters carried on this legacy of organizing to a record number of Black American voters this election, leaders in the movement reflect upon a history of gender and racial oppression, attributing much of their success as activists and organizers to the strength and resilience borne from that shared lineage.

“Black women are acting at the intersection of so many different types of injustices that particularly affect them and their children,” said Alaina Morgan, an African diaspora historian at the University of Southern California.

“We never had the opportunity to be anything else but forward thinking survivors,” Brown said. “If we were not, we could die, our families could die, our children could die. Part of the culture of how we show up in the world is in response to our history.”

Brown, who sings soul music and is releasing her first album, Songs of the

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‘White Women Voted for Trump’ Is the Worst Election Trope

White women voted for Trump. Or so you have probably heard. In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, the finding from early exit polls that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump formed the basis for a million social-media posts, op-eds, and rally placards. That this “fact” is not true is not even close to the biggest problem with its ubiquitous place in progressive social-justice discourse.

a group of people in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

© Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Slate’s L.V. Anderson articulated what would become a ubiquitous theme in the social-justice media world: “White women sold out their fellow women, their country, and themselves last night.”


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The 53 percent figure turned out to be erroneous, and corrected analyses eventually pegged Trump’s share of the white female electorate closer to 47 percent. Nonetheless, the impulse that propelled so many writers to blame white women for electing Trump proved strong enough to survive even after the factual basis was undercut. Indeed, left-wing opinion writers continued churning out polemics based on the erroneous 53 percent figure for years. The production line has kept running right through the 2020 elections, which have yielded more shaky early-exit-poll data that has been turned into another round of flagellation of white women for their alleged collective sin.

A Washington Post op-ed by Lyz Lenz, headlined “White Women Vote Republican. Get Used to It, Democrats.,” uses white women’s alleged support for Trump to urge Democrats to stop focusing on winning them. Lenz bemoans “the amount of money and effort that went to flip suburban women, who had no intention of voting Democratic at all, while other groups of voters were taken for granted.”

Lenz’s argument strings together a series of factual and logical missteps, each compounding the last. First, even after acknowledging that the 2016 exit polls showing Trump won white voters were wrong, she uses the 2020 exit polls anyway. (“Exit polling indicates that Trump’s support had increased among White women.”) Lenz then concedes the figure could, at some point, be “adjusted,” without considering the high probability that the adjustment will in fact negate her premise.

Second, she treats the supposed failure of white women to turn against Trump as a reason Democrats should do less to try to win their votes, while proceeding to treat Trump’s gains among nonwhite voters as a reason Democrats should do more to win their votes. Of course, the whole idea that political parties should ignore constituencies they don’t win is quite odd, but Lenz doesn’t even apply an internally consistent standard to her self-defeating principle.

The most fundamental problem with Lenz’s argument is revealed in her dismissive suggestion “White women are not a swing voting bloc.” The word swing applies to states in the Electoral College. Because the system awards votes on a winner-takes-all basis, states that might swing from one candidate to another command most of the resources. Demographic blocs don’t work like that. It doesn’t

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2020 election brings most women of color ever to 2021 Congress

There will be more women of color sworn in to the 117th U.S. Congress than ever before, with at least 51 women of color elected. Ballots are still being tallied in two close races, so the number could climb.

In western Washington state, Democrat Marilyn Strickland was elected the first Black person to represent the state at the federal level and is one of the first Korean Americans ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I believe that if we had more women in positions of leadership and power, we could actually solve some of our biggest problems,” she said. “The benefit of having more women at the table, and especially women of color, is that policymaking and decision-making are just better.”

Strickland noted that part of her new position would be cultivating a pipeline of women of color for open political seats and having conversations with them about campaign finance reform. Although many women run for office, women of color face some major hurdles, she said, the biggest of which are financing their campaigns and gaining the support of voters.

Democratic women of color made the most gains; however, Republican women won some of the most competitive races. In Orange County, Michelle Steel and Young Kim won back the districts in Orange County that Republicans lost to Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. Steel and Kim are two of the first three Korean American women elected to the House.

In New Mexico, Republican Yvette Herrell won back the 2nd Congressional District from Democrat U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Democrat Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, was reelected, as was Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, giving New Mexico its first House delegation made up entirely of women of color.

Congresswoman-elect Fernandez said the effects of the pandemic were worse among communities of color, and she hopes to bring her experience to address the issues they are facing.

“I’m hoping 2021 is the beginning of the shift we need in this country where we start focusing on what our communities need so they can thrive,” Fernandez said. “Our goal should be that we have a Congress that reflects the U.S.”

New Mexico and 23 other states have elected 78 women of color to Congress to date. California has sent more women of color to the House and Senate than any other state, a total of 17, to date. Voters in the state have also elected more women to Congress than other states, a total of 43. Vermont is the only state that has never sent a woman to the Senate or the House.

This election set a new record for Missouri, where Democrat Cori Bush became the state’s first Black congresswoman. Bush will represent the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Ferguson and St. Louis.

It’s also a historic year for women in general, with at least 141 women winning seats this election, surpassing the previous record of 127 set in 2019, according to the

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Election of Pro-Life Women Shows Tide Is Turning

Move over, Nancy Pelosi: Pro-life women are driving the new Republican surge in Congress – an unmistakable rebuke to Democrats’ radical abortion agenda. 

With several races still too close to call, the number of newly elected pro-life women is up to 16. Seven of these candidates flipped seats held by pro-abortion Democrats. The group includes the first Iranian American elected to Congress, a member of the Cherokee nation, a daughter of Cuban exiles, and a first-generation Korean American, showing that the life issue brings a diverse coalition together. Including incumbents, the total number of pro-life women in the House now stands at 27. 

In the Senate, the ranks of pro-life women continue to grow. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) won competitive reelection races. Additionally, former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) won her race and will be the first woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate. 

I remember when there was just a small handful of pro-life women in the House and none in the Senate. Over the years Susan B. Anthony List has worked tirelessly to fix this severe underrepresentation and counter the well-funded abortion lobby. This is breathtaking progress, something that Republican insiders and even some staunch pro-lifers doubted could be done. 

Moreover, pro-abortion Democrats failed to flip a single state legislature despite spending historic sums of money. In New Hampshire, Republicans won a trifecta, unexpectedly flipping both chambers of the legislature while holding on to the governor’s office. In Texas, our team helped defeat pro-abortion radical Wendy Davis and more than a dozen others like her at the state level, while electing pro-life champions like Beth Van Duyne in U.S. House races. Our efforts succeeded in thwarting pro-abortion extremists’ plans to infiltrate the Texas legislature and redraw district maps next year, solidifying the state as a stronghold in the fight to defend unborn children. 

This surge is a testament not only to the power of the life issue to motivate voters, but to its most high-profile champion: Donald Trump. Because of his presidency, party leaders are unified and energized, and it is practically unthinkable for Republican candidates anywhere to win elections without being pro-life. 

Where the old Republican Party was glad to benefit from pro-lifers’ votes while holding them at arm’s length, President Trump fully embraced the pro-life movement and governed as the most pro-life president in history. He is the first president ever to get Planned Parenthood to forfeit Title X tax dollars or to address the March for Life in person. 

Where Republican candidates used to speak timidly about abortion, if they spoke about it at all, he boldly called out his Democrat opponents’ support for late-term abortion and infanticide while repeatedly and publicly identifying his party with the protection of unborn children and their mothers. Under President Trump’s lead, the Republican National Convention featured the most explicit pro-life speeches ever given at a major party convention. 

The president consistently delivered on his promises – most importantly, to nominate only constitutionalist judges. Because of

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Despite Recent Election Gains, Women Remain Underrepresented in Local Politics | Cities

On Election Day, as tens of millions of Americans cast votes for the country’s first-ever female vice president, the nation’s second-largest metro area also made history of its own: With more than 60% of the vote, California state Sen. Holly Mitchell won an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, marking the first time the powerful five-person body will become entirely female. The all-women board will also represent a likely first for any major American metro area.

“We’re seeing more women are putting themselves out there, and that’s great,” says Kathy Maness, first vice president of the National League of Cities and a Lexington, South Carolina, council member. “Women tend to lead differently than our male counterparts, and I’m glad to see that women are stepping up.”

Post-Election Unrest in Photos

LANSING, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 04: Protester Kristan Small carries a flag from her father's funeral while attending a fair election demonstration on November 04, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Small's father Gordon Small died of Covid-19 on May 8 and she came to the rally to demand that all votes be counted in the presidential election before any candidate declares victory. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Yet in American local politics – as in federal politics – women remain badly underrepresented. As of September 2019, according to data from the U.S Conference of Mayors, among American cities with populations of at least 30,000 residents, only 22% had female mayors. Of the country’s 100 largest cities, 27 had female mayors. (The largest cities with female mayors are Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco.) As of late 2017, roughly 32% of American municipal councillors were women, according to research from The City Mayors Foundation. The vast majority of local councils remained predominantly male.

It’s a political landscape that makes Los Angeles County’s new board particularly momentous. “I think young women will see this board of supervisors,” says Maness, “and I think it will encourage young people to get involved, and look up there and say, ‘Hey, if these women can do it, I know I can do it.'”

Los Angeles County is not, in fact, the only municipal board to be entirely female. Last year Story County, Iowa – population 97,000 – elected its first all-female Board of Supervisors, and this year San Luis Obispo, California, elected its first all-female council.

But among local governing bodies, Los Angeles County is particularly influential. With more than 10 million residents, Los Angeles County, which includes the city of Los Angeles, is the country’s most populous; its Board of Supervisors, long ago dubbed the “five little kings,” controls a $35 billion budget, the country’s second-largest municipal purse, and oversees the nation’s largest jail system. The board remained all male until 1979. Since 2017, four of its five members have been women.

Its new addition is an established Democratic politician and a stalwart of Los Angeles’ Black community. After years of working in politics, she first won a California State Assembly seat a decade ago. She was moved to run for office, she recently told the Los Angeles Times, after witnessing three male lawmakers nonchalantly cut $1 billion from state child care.

She was subsequently elected to the California Senate, representing a district that included much of downtown Los Angeles, and became known as a champion of the city’s poor.

“I would describe her

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How The Election Legitimized Women’s Ambition And What That Means For Tech

Political affiliations aside, history was made when Kamala Harris was announced as the United States vice president-elect earlier this month. This is the first time a Black and South Asian woman born of immigrant parents is poised to join one of the highest offices of power and influence.

Kamala Harris is already becoming iconic in that she represents the opportunity not had by the women before her as well as the opportunities to come for the young women who hope to succeed her someday – and know it’s possible because she was the first.

Being the first comes with expected notoriety, but the powerful and moving nature of Harris’s election as the first of those who share her identities goes deeper. It represents the breakthrough of identities that are historically and currently marginalized at points far below the level of office she has succeeded, and the combination of which is often treated as many reasons why her election should not have happened. As shared by her niece, Meena Harris, in an op-ed earlier this month, it is also a validation of the ambitions women have despite facing adversity to their gender, race, sexual orientation and otherwise. A woman’s ambition has not only been legitimized, but also celebrated – even iconicized as inspiration for female leaders to come.

This rhetoric, which has only just begun to gain momentum, is not a quick and easy news peg for clicks; it is critically needed.

In parts of the country where women and girls are treated as inferior to their male counterparts, this is especially the case. In industries such as technology where leadership positions are largely held by men, the gender ratio at large remains dismal – not to mention the sparse state of racial diversity. Of note, Harris’s election also dismantles the myth that an HBCU education does not properly prepare one for success as she is a graduate of Howard University. 

The importance of examining these learnings lies in their potential to spark the rewiring of systems that have wrongly existed because of bias and misconceptions. It is important not only for the opportunities it will bring for women, but also for all of the places that will now win the impact of women who will be freer to inspire and work, contribute and lead where they were once hindered.

From T-shirts with the NASA logo exclusively hanging in the ‘Boys’ section of a clothing store, to “boy’s club” cultures in undergraduate Computer Science departments that dissuade would-be female CS graduates from completing their course of study, the divide starts young and continues into adulthood. Women technologists who have been in the industry for decades reflect on their paths and pivot points as anomalies rather than inevitable – a highly paradoxical pattern within the most progressive industry in the world.

This election was more than a contest between two potential leadership

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Paloma Elsesser, Precious Lee, Tess McMillan, and Jill Kortleve Get Real About Fashion, Body Image, and the 2020 Election

As fashion continues to evolve its messages about beauty and inclusion, a new generation of models has risen to the forefront. Boldly beautiful and willing to speak up on issues relating to body image, politics, and feminism, they’re among the most in-demand talents of the moment. Paloma Elsesser, Precious Lee, Jill Kortleve, and Tess McMcMillan represent this sea change in different ways. Still, their combined efforts are helping redefine what it means to work in the “curve” segment of modeling. Whether it’s Kortleve and Lee taking to the runway at Versace’s spring/summer 2021 show and embodying the outré spirit of Donatella’s designs, Elsesser racking up covers on prestige glossies, or McMillan lending her ethereal beauty to Marc Jacobs’s campaigns, each is charting new territory. The group joined Vogue contributor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson on stage at their Forces of Fashion panel to discuss the ups and downs of being among the first to challenge fashion’s norms and the boundaries that remain unbroken.

Entitled “Whose Positivity,” the discussion was lively and engaging with topics that ran the gamut from their unique discovery stories to moving beyond fashion’s self-imposed restrictions of “commercial” and “prestige” work. “We have to acknowledge the fact that there was a time, not long ago, where this entire panel wouldn’t exist,” said Karefa-Johnson in reference to the groundbreaking shifts that have occurred during the last decade. “We should be speaking and thinking critically about the industry that we’re in. We have so far to go, but this is a phenomenal start.” Representation for women of larger sizes in fashion is a relatively new development, but its impact remains inspiring, even for the women whose images have become its symbols.

Watch their galvanizing panel and many more at Vogue’s virtual Forces of Fashion

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This is how women voters decided the 2020 election

When President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office in January, he’ll have a group of voters to thank in particular for delivering him the White House: women.

Women supported Biden at higher rates than men — especially Black women voters, who rallied behind President Obama’s former V.P. at crucial turns during his 2020 presidential campaign.

While election data won’t be finalized until each state finishes tabulating its votes, early exit polls show President-elect Biden winning the votes of 57 percent of women, compared to 45 percent of men. In comparison, President Trump won 42 percent of women’s votes and 53 percent of men’s votes.

Katarina Trautmann

Women once again voted at higher rates than men, and in this year of record voter turnout, they’ve cast more votes than ever before.

“I don’t know that there were major shifts,” said Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, referring to the enduring “gender gap” in which women tend to favor Democratic candidates, and the longstanding trend of women voting at higher rates than men. The difference, she said, was turnout. “I think it’s just more. There was just more of it.”

While Biden made gains among college-educated, white women voters who supported him in greater numbers than they did Hillary Clinton four years ago, Black women voters carried him over the finish line. In this year’s presidential election, nearly nine out of 10 Black voters cast their vote for Biden, according to a survey by AP VoteCast. Among Black women, that number was even higher — 91 percent, as exit polls stand now — with 80 percent Black men voting for Biden. While President Trump generated more support from Black voters in 2020 than he did in 2016, he won only 8 percent of the vote among Black women and 18 percent among Black men. Overall, Black voters comprised 11 percent of the voter pool.

“Either because of enthusiasm, or because of [voter] registration, or just because of demographic shifts, there may have been slightly more Black voters this time around than last time around,” said Eran Ben-Porath, executive vice president at SSRS, a survey and market research firm. “To the extent that their support is in the high 80s, overall percentage-wise, for Biden that obviously can push him up.”

And as Biden mentioned in his victory speech on Saturday night, Black voters carried him to victory not only on Election Day, but at key times when his candidacy was slipping. Their support during the South Carolina Primary last March enabled Biden to win the state’s contest and clear the Democratic field before Super Tuesday.

“The African-American community stood up again for me,” Biden said during his victory speech on Saturday night. “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”

The issue of racial justice, which became a flashpoint during the general election season after the death of George Floyd sparked protests around the world, motivated voters. Despite Trump’s appeals to suburban

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The sexist rhetoric around the election proves women still have to fight for respect

Over the course of the last century, women fought tooth and nail for a basic right: the right to vote. Now, our country has elected the first Black and Asian woman to become the next vice president of the United States. As a first-generation Asian American, as a woman and as an American, I could not be prouder.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winner with Joe Biden of the presidential election. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

© Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winner with Joe Biden of the presidential election. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Propelled in part by historic turnout of women voters, women candidates — of both parties — have broken records, up and down the ballot. The first Black woman to win a congressional seat in Missouri is headed to the House of Representatives. In Delaware, the first trans woman became the highest-ranking transgender state legislator in the country. The first non-binary state legislator in the nation has been elected in Oklahoma. New Mexico became the first state to send an all women of color delegation to the House of Representatives. This year, there are at least 13 new Republican women going to Congress, in contrast to 2018 when there was only one. And despite unrelenting, racist and sexist attacks, all four members of “The Squad” won re-election.

While we celebrate these historic milestones, we cannot forget why it has taken us so long to get here. Time and time again, when women, and especially women of color, run for office, they have been subjected to a double standard that has nothing to do with their qualifications and everything to do with this country’s history of sexism and racism.

Overcoming the consequences of sexism and racism has been next to impossible for generations of women — and the news media offers us clues about how they still persist today. In the two weeks following the announcement of Sen. Kamala Harris as the Democratic nominee for vice president, a TIME’S UP Now analysis found more than 11,000 online news articles had used biased language about Harris — whether that’s Newsweek choosing to publish an op-ed that was used to perpetuate the baseless, racist “birther” conspiracies (it later published an editor’s note apologizing for the essay), or other news organizations repeating derogatory comments made by President Trump and Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson deliberately and repeatedly mispronouncing her name.

This isn’t just about elections either. The pervasiveness of sexism in our political and public discourse infects not only how we think about women running for public office, but also how we think about women leaders in every sector — as CEOs, as health care leaders and as frontline managers.

We are entering a pivotal moment in the fight for justice and equality, buoyed by the gains women made in this election, including unprecedented levels of representation in our state and federal government. And while solving these intractable issues should not fall solely on women, women have historically led the fight.


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5 Howard University women on Kamala Harris’ historic election and the impact of HBCUs

In January 2019, Krystle Champagne-Norwood attended a basketball game at her alma mater, Howard University, when Sen. Kamala Harris, who at the time had just launched her 2020 presidential campaign, greeted the crowd.

a person posing for the camera: Democratic 2020 U.S. vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris takes the stage to speak at the site of their election rally, after the news media announced that Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election over President Donald Trump, in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 7, 2020.

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Democratic 2020 U.S. vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris takes the stage to speak at the site of their election rally, after the news media announced that Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election over President Donald Trump, in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 7, 2020.

“It was so exciting to see her there,” Champagne-Norwood tells CNBC Make It. “I happened to be there with my husband and it was like my last outing [for a while] because later on that night I gave birth to my son. And, I always tell him, ‘You met Kamala Harris before you were born.'”

Harris, who ended her presidential campaign in December 2019, is now making history as the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to be elected vice president of the United States after Democratic nominee Joe Biden became the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. Not only did Biden and Harris’ win lead to gender and racial barriers being broken, but Harris’ ascension to the White House will also make her the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

Kamala Harris et al. standing in a room: US Senator from California, Kamala Harris, addresses the media on January, 21 2019 at Howard University in Washington, DC after announcing earlier in the day that she is seeking to become the first African American woman to hold the office of US president, joining an already-crowded field of Democrats lining up to take on Donald Trump.

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US Senator from California, Kamala Harris, addresses the media on January, 21 2019 at Howard University in Washington, DC after announcing earlier in the day that she is seeking to become the first African American woman to hold the office of US president, joining an already-crowded field of Democrats lining up to take on Donald Trump.

Harris, who graduated from Howard in 1986, has often said that her four years at the university played a critical role in who she is today.


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“I became an adult at Howard University,” she said in a 2019 Washington Post interview. “Howard very directly influenced and reinforced — equally important — my sense of being and meaning and reasons for being.”

Like many Black students, Harris, who is a member of the oldest historically Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., chose to attend an HBCU for the community and its legacy of shaping and educating future Black leaders. “When you’re at an HBCU,” she said, “and especially one with the size and with the history of Howard University — and also in the context of also being in D.C., which was known forever as being ‘Chocolate City’ — it just becomes about you understanding that there is a whole world of people who are like you. It’s not just about there are a few of us who may find each other.”

Following her time at Howard, Harris went on to graduate from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, before starting a groundbreaking career in politics. In 2003, she became San Francisco’s district attorney, making

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