Kamala Harris made history Saturday when she became the first woman, Black and Asian American to become vice president-elect.
The proud HBCU graduate, who dressed in suffragette white, gave a stirring speech in Delaware where she spoke of breaking down barriers, of hope and possibilities — particularly for young girls.
Prominent African American women in Maryland echoed Harris' words while praising her in response to her historic win.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who watched Saturday’s acceptance speech with her two daughters, said Harris has broken the glass ceiling for women in this country.
“My faith in our country has been restored,” Mosby said. “She’s a bold, brilliant, beautiful Black woman, an HBCU graduate. … She’s the first woman in this position; the first woman of color in this position. When we talk about the glass ceiling has been shattered, she shatters them.”
Mosby described Harris as a “role model” and “pioneer” in the progressive reform prosecutorial movement. In fact, Mosby said, she has modeled certain strategies and approaches after Harris' work as California attorney general.
“She had a national model for ensuring that we were addressing the root problems as to why crimes take place; understanding and recognizing that felony convictions can lead to someone no longer having a job, no longer having housing, not being able to get financial aid,” Mosby said.
“On a personal note, she has inspired Black women like me to run for office,” said Mosby, who added that Harris worked with her and her staff for six hours after Mosby was elected state’s attorney. “There would be no Marilyn Mosby without Kamala Harris. When I won state’s attorney, Kamala was my inspiration.”
Adrienne A. Jones, the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, said watching the speeches of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Harris was “extremely emotional” for her.
“I think she was wonderful. She spoke from the heart. I think it resonated with a lot of young girls that she is the first, but she won’t be the only. And that is a good thing," said Jones, who is the first African American and the first woman to be House speaker in Maryland.
Jones said Black women were the deciding factor in tipping this election win to Biden-Harris. She added that Black women should be considered for cabinet positions and potential Supreme Court nominations under this new administration.
“I think that those opportunities are there in this coming administration that were not at all possible with this current one,” Jones said. “It’s not about just putting a Black woman in the spot. We have very talented women. A lot of them just didn’t have this opportunity to be recognized for their talent and for their hard work that they have been doing over the years.”
Ganesha Martin, president and CEO of GMM Consulting, a company that works at the intersection of diversity, law, and police reform, said she felt a great deal of pride watching Harris speak Saturday night.
“To stare down all the people and structures that have told her ‘no’ and ‘to stay in her place.’ She is proof you can be your authentic self. You can embrace your history and heritage, and be a force for change without assimilating,” Martin explained. “She is the manifestation of the village. I am personally excited to have a person that looks like me and has lived the Black experience helping me to address police reform. Our voices matter at those tables. I am glad she will be leading the charge.”
Martin, who is the former director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and former chief of the Department of Justice Compliance, Accountability and External Affairs for the Baltimore Police Department, added: “It says a lot that we have our first Black, female vice president, but it says even more that it took America this long to get here.”
She added: “We must remember that while President-elect Biden made the right decision, in the end, it was coalitions of Black folks demanding a Black woman VP on the ticket and Black voters that held to their promise that made it happen.”
On Tuesday night, Danyell Smith felt “a little nauseated” as she watched early election results. She went to bed early because she didn’t want to watch anymore.
But as the sun set Saturday evening, she joined other Baltimore County Democrats to celebrate with music and dancing at a small celebration in Towson, where they gathered in the parking lot of the county Democratic Party headquarters.
Smith is active in local politics and served as a national co-chair of the group Black Women for Biden-Harris.
“We worked very hard and we’re just ecstatic,” Smith said as cars passing by honked in support of the revelers, who were waving American and Biden-Harris flags.
Smith said women of all backgrounds are saying, "Now my daughters know that even in the face of so much chaos and distress, there is still hope — and that they have a chance to be anything that they want to be, as long they work hard and are good citizens.”
Harris “is not just a woman, but she’s a Black woman, she’s an Indian woman,” Smith said.
As a Coppin State graduate, Smith is also excited that Harris is a product of Howard University, an HBCU.
Crystal Francis, who chairs the county Democratic Party and graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, also said it was thrilling to see an HBCU graduate be elected vice president.
Francis said she felt emotional Saturday thinking about Harris' win.
“It just shows that we can accomplish anything,” Francis said. “When you see someone that looks like you be able to shatter that glass ceiling … It is possible in America.”