Vice President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics

January 20, 2021
Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris broke the barrier Wednesday that has kept men at the top ranks of American power for more than two centuries when she took the oath to hold the nation’s second-highest office.

Harris was sworn in as the nation’s first female vice president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to hold the role — in front of the U.S. Capitol by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The moment was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one.

She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection that sought to overturn the election results.

Harris was wearing clothes from two young, emerging Black designers — a deep purple dress and coat.

After taking the oath of office, a beaming Harris hugged her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and gave President-elect Joe Biden a first bump.

Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary will fall away, expanding the idea of what’s possible in American politics.

But it’s particularly meaningful because Harris will be taking office at a moment of deep consequence, with Americans grappling over the role of institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities.

Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard.”


Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first went to Washington as a senator from California, where she’d previously served as attorney general and as San Francisco’s district attorney.

She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump’s victory quickly scrambled the nation’s capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars.

After Harris’ own presidential bid fizzled, her rise continued when Joe Biden chose her as his running mate last August.

Harris had been a close friend of Beau Biden, the elder son of Joe Biden and a former Delaware attorney general who died in 2015 of cancer.

The inauguration activities included nods to her history-making role and her personal story.

Harris used two Bibles to take the oath, one that belonged to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the late civil rights icon whom Harris often cites as inspiration, and Regina Shelton, who helped raise Harris during her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The drumline from Harris’ alma mater, Howard University, joined the presidential escort.

She’ll address the nation later in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a symbolic choice as the nation endures one of its most divided stretches since the Civil War.

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