Aimee Allison says she has waited on pins and needles for this day to come.
“My heart stopped and I said, ‘Wow, this makes so much more possible,'” she exclaimed, upon receiving the email Tuesday afternoon saying that California Senator.
Like Harris, Allison is biracial and hails from Oakland. She has spent the last three years working as founder of She the People, a national network to elevate the political power of women of color.
The organization has pledged to turn out one million women of color in the 2020 election, and 71% of those surveyed in its latest poll believe it was “important” for Biden to choose a woman of color to be vice president.
“It’s on! We knew that we needed a woman of color on the ticket to deepen enthusiasm and engage the country’s most valuable Democratic voters, which are women of color, particularly black women and now we have it,” Allison said.
is the first Black woman and the first Asian-American woman on a major party’s presidential ticket. A daughter of immigrants, her mother came to the U.S. from India and worked as a cancer researcher while raising Harris and her sister, Maya. Her father is from Jamaica and was an economist.
“It is in a sense the American story. Immigrants who come here, who work hard, who raise two daughters to think there were no limits to what they could achieve — I think that is a story we will all look up to,” former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett told “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.
Laphonza Butler, a senior adviser on Harris’ presidential campaign, texted her after she heard the news.
“This was the fight of our lives, our collective lives and she just said ‘ready to fight'” Butler told CBS News. “For all those little girls that I saw Kamala meet over the primary, no matter their race, I think it was an incredibly exciting and impactful moment for them, too.”
In the run-up to this week’s announcement, a coalition of Black women mounted a vigorous lobbying campaign. Using hashtags #WinWithBlackWomen and #WhenBlackWomenEnter, more than 700 Black women signed an open letter denouncing sexist and racist language against Black vice presidential candidates, after a member of Biden’s vetting committee was alleged to have said Harris showed “no remorse” for her debate attacks on the former vice president last year. Other Biden allies reportedly called her “too ambitious.”
Tuesday night the collective launched a streaming telethon on YouTube, featuring a virtual sister circle of African-American female elected officials, political operatives and activists.
“I just screamed, and then I just cried, I just cried, and I was so overwhelmed in the moment,” sniffled a teary-eyed Reverend Leah Daughtry, former CEO of the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“It doesn’t end sexism and racism, but it takes it to a whole other level if we are able to take it across the finish line,” noted Melanie Campbell, chair of Sisters Lead Sisters Vote and president and CEO of the Black Women’s Roundtable.
“Hallelujah! Black girl magic!” veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile chimed in. “All those women who have come before us, they wanted us to be part of this moment.”
Many drew parallels to Shirley Chisholm, the “unbought and unbossed” congresswoman from New York. She was the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first woman and African-American to run for president in 1972.
Higher Heights’ Glynda Carr has worked to expand the number of Black women in office and called it a “game changer.”
“This moment has allowed America to be introduced to Black women’s leadership at the highest level of our democracy,” said Carr, who also highlighted the promotion of Karine Jean-Pierre, a Haitian-American who will serve as Harris’ chief of staff.
Harris is a member of the nation’s first African-American Greek-letter sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and a graduate of Howard University, an historically black college and university (HBCU).
Carr said Harris’ experiences as a Black woman, along with her credentials holding local, state and federal office make her “uniquely positioned” to address some of the historic challenges facing the nation, from the global pandemic to systemic racism.
Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, also said she expects Harris “to set a new course” in a future Biden administration. She is advocating an agenda that centers on closing the wealth gap and ending police violence.
“A Black woman as a potential Vice President in the White House, will take us even further in our effort to bring about real systemic change in America today,” Brown said in a statement.