PIERCE COUNTY, Washington - The swearing-in of Vice President Kamala Harris shattered a number of barriers. Not only is she the first woman to rise to the office of vice president, but she's also the first Black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent.
For all those reasons and more, Harris is an inspiration to a whole new generation of future leaders: a reminder of what is possible in America.
"You can literally be anything you put your mind to, don’t let anything stop you. Kamala is obviously a huge inspiration to us, specifically young Black girls and you can do anything you want to do," said Mercedes Minor, a junior at Kentlake High School in Kent.
What better way to celebrate the historic inauguration of the first woman Vice President of the United States than with a song?
"It was good for Soror Kamala, it’s good enough for me," sang members of the Zeta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
AKA members everywhere celebrated their sorority sister Harris, now the country’s second in command.
"This is a day that almost beyond words," said Sharon Freeman, president of the Zeta Omega Omega Chapter in Tacoma. "It’s wonderful to see somebody that looks like you in a position like that. That means it’s attainable."
Freeman said Harris embodies more than just the sorority’s fashionable pink and green ensembles and signature pearls.
"She represents, through Alpha Kappa Alpha, our beliefs in service to all mankind. That’s what we do. And just think this is the ultimate in service—being a Vice President. She’s going to really help make this country better," said Freeman.
A better country is what many women of all ages said they are hopeful for under Harris’ leadership.
"It definitely gives me a lot of motivation. It gives me a really good mindset that I can literally do anything I want to be. No matter who I am, what I am, whatever. It gives me a really big boost of confidence," said Minor, who hopes to become a lawyer to represent children with special needs and their families.
Confidence is one of many things the Peace Community Center teaches children in Tacoma’s Hilltop community. Directors said Harris’ victory is a positive representation for the kids they serve.
"As a mother and as an advocate for young women, being able to see someone who looks like us win is tremendous and I’m just really excited that our little girls—their perception of what and where they can go in the world has drastically changed today," said Cecily Croskey, Peace’s program manager for high school, college and career.
"When I think about the history for women in this country and to now have a vice president female woman of color, it’s just absolutely phenomenal. There’s just so much pride that I have right now in this moment," said L. Denice Randle, Peace’s executive director. "I was so excited! I wore my pearls!"
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris overcame adversity during her campaign. Program managers at Peace said it’s a lesson their students can learn from.
"This year is showing them what resilience then turns into and the accomplishments that are made for not giving up," said Kelsey Longrie, Peace’s manager for Bobcat Scholars Middle School program.
Not giving up is the spirit Harris brings to the White House—a spirit she embraced through sisterhood.
"I can be anything I want to be. I can rise to the highest level. Nothing is going to stop me," said Freeman.