The march toward progress can be slow, but the United States took a leap forward this year with the election of Kamala Harris – the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian elected to the second-highest public office in the nation.
Harris is not new to milestones. She was the first Black woman attorney general in California, and the second Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. CFA members laud the rise of the homegrown Californian with joy and a sense of empowerment.
“Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being in the White House brings us one step closer toward gender and racial equity and creates opportunities for multi-racial women like myself and my daughter. I said to my 9-year-old daughter the day of the announcement that anything is possible!” said Nicki Mehta, Chair of CFA’s Membership and Organizing Committee and Sacramento State education lecturer. “CFA faculty members teach these possibilities to our students! We believe in creating these pathways toward an equitable, public higher education system, where regardless of identity, we all belong.”
Harris’ ascension comes at a time of great upheaval as Americans confront a damaging history, and continuing practice, of racial injustice. A Historic Black College alumna, Harris centered her campaign for president, and then vice president, on bringing social change and advancing civil rights.
Though Harris recorded a progressive agenda in her four years as senator, her prior work as San Francisco’s district attorney and state attorney general used a tough-on-crime approach with weak records on prosecuting problem police officers. Harris repeatedly missed opportunities to blaze a progressive trail on social justice issues.
CFA hopes Harris’ opinions have evolved on these issues. CFA will continue to work with her and the Biden administration to bring equity and opportunity to all Americans, because, after all, Harris’ election embodies the future of a country that is growing more racially diverse.
“Similar to when President Obama was elected, I feel like for the first time someone in this nation’s leadership looks like me. I feel empowered to lead and create change in our community, on our campus and in our union,” Mehta said.