On Saturday, along with the news that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 presidential election, came another historic win: Kamala Harris, the California senator of Jamaican and Indian descent, will be the first woman vice president in U.S. history.
That it took 244 years since our nation's founding for a woman to reach the White House is hardly cause for celebration. But the fact that Harris, a woman of mixed Black and Asian heritage, will be the one to break that barrier, is reflective of the extraordinary dynamics at play this election. As votes continued to be counted this week, voters in heavily Black cities — namely Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta — helped to propel the Biden-Harris ticket to victory in key swing states.
Harris had launched her own bid for the 2020 nomination, but she flamed out rather quickly as she struggled to clearly articulate whether she was aligned with the progressive wing of the Democrats or whether she'd be sticking to her more moderate roots. But as a running mate for Biden, she was a perfect fit, helping to offset some of the former vice president's weaknesses — namely his status as a 74-year-old white man vying to lead an increasingly diversifying nation. Their policy approaches are also generally aligned, and Harris's reputation for being an engaging, incisive speaker helped her make the case for Biden when he himself at times struggled to do so.
Harris had already made history when she joined Biden's ticket, becoming the first Black and Asian-American woman to be on a major-party ticket for president. She was also the first Black person and first woman to serve as California's attorney general, and before that broke those same barriers when she became the attorney general for San Francisco. When she joined the Senate in 2017, she was just the second Black woman to do so.
With the news Saturday that she and Biden had won the election, she'll take her record-breaking career a step further — this time, to the West Wing of the White House.