Last night as I watched her smile and listened to her speech I was overcome with emotion. It hit me like a strong wave in the ocean that there was a Black, Indian-American woman who entered the stage dancing to Mary J. Blige and graduated from the college my middle child currently attends and will be sworn in as the next Vice President of America.
First, my hands were pushing toward the ceiling flowing into a rapid Pentecostal hand clap and before I knew it I was wiping tears from my eyes as my young adult children gave me a smile of approval to say it’s okay mom, we understand. And they allowed me to have my moment then we silently had one together.
There’s this thought that has been stirring in my spirit about the Black woman and I’m still working it out on paper before sharing but watching Kamala Harris be unapologetically Black, seen, received, and celebrated, filled my cup.
All I can think about are the ancestors; Fannie Lou Hamer who I’m obsessed with right now, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Nina Simone, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and so many more who made it their life’s work, experienced ridicule, violence, abuse, threats, were ostracized, repudiated, had to take the back seat to men, get their approval in order for their voices to be heard.
“There are so MANY things I have to be grateful for…but today I am grateful that I have the RIGHT TO VOTE! My ancestors did not, and many died fighting for the chance to do so. My parents came from the South fighting for this right and exercised it religiously. Momma voted…at 101 yo! I voted, praying that the LEGITIMATE winner is declared and that all USA citizens peacefully accept the will of the people.”
That was a quote from Ms. Donna Maxey, a well-accomplished woman and respected elder in my community who joined the 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge this year and listed being able to vote as something she’s grateful for. Her mother is 101 years young, one year older than the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote, a right known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement that Black women helped fight for but could not partake in.
I suspect it is not Black women only who are elated to see the first woman Vice President. Any and every progressive woman should be celebrating this momentous occasion. But, isn’t it ironic though, the very women who were not extended that right in 1920, had to wait forty-five years later for the Voting Rights Act, and still, to this day, jump through voter suppression hoops, are now the first to be represented in one of the highest offices in the country?
“My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.”
What I love most, is that even knowing this history, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, proudly acknowledged the centennial of the suffrage movement including all women, inviting us to join together to celebrate a deferred dream finally realized. I am more inspired than the day before to achieve limitless possibilities.