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VP Harris adds new meaning to Black History Month

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For the first time during Black History Month the Vice President is a Black woman, representing the agency Black voters invoked to make political progress. (Feb. 25)

Video Transcript

[CHEERING]

HILARY POWELL: For the first time during Black History Month, many students at historically Black colleges and universities can cheer on someone in the White House who shares their collegiate heritage.

KAMALA HARRIS: I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear--

HILARY POWELL: Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female Black, Indian American, and first HBCU graduate to hold the office.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Two months into her term, Joint Center president Spencer Overton says he isn't surprised Harris has shepherded inclusive initiatives--

- This listening session is an opportunity for Black mayors--

HILARY POWELL: --including meeting with Black mayors, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and inspiring a meeting with HBCU presidents.

SPENCER OVERTON: It's important that there be someone who is a counselor to the president who can provide honest and direct feedback and guidance with regard to issues of opportunity, inclusion, and justice. And I think that she will be able to do that, right? I think she'll be able to explain the perspectives of a diverse group of African-Americans.

HILARY POWELL: College friend and entertainment lawyer Lita Rosario remembers Harris as the student who wouldn't back down from a challenge. At Howard University in 1982, Rosario was the only woman on the school's debate team when she recruited a bold freshman named Kamala.

LITA ROSARIO: I noticed that she had good succinct arguments and she had some keen insight. And I noticed in particular that she didn't back down when the fellas would get into the debates and kind of try to use their physical presence or the strength in their voice to try to win a point. I know the competence of Howard graduates and of her in particular. And I just feel like the country is going to be in extremely good hands.

HILARY POWELL: In DC, Chioma Oruh and her mother Patience, a naturalized citizen from Nigeria, say they're connected to Harris as fellow descendants of the immigrant experience.

PATIENCE ORUH: I'm so elated. I feel very happy. It gives me hope that women still having many roles to play in just my lifetime.

CHIOMA ORUH: I pray that her leadership really shows that balance that we all need and deserve as, you know, we're living through something really terrible with COVID and we need leadership that can really recognize our pain, give value to our experiences.

HILARY POWELL: As Harris said in her acceptance speech, she may be the first to walk in these shoes this Black History Month, but she expects to not be the last.

SPENCER OVERTON: The agency with which Black women, that they exercised in terms of saying, hey, we're going to have enough confidence in ourselves to say we're worth it, it's important for a Black woman to be on the ticket, this notion of being beyond firsts and saying, we really do have a place at the table.

HILARY POWELL: Hilary Powell, the Associated Press.