For the first time in its 244-year history, the United States of America has elected a woman to the second-highest elected office—and she’s a woman of color. Kamala Harris has made history.

MICHIGAN — People are reacting across the country to the news that Sen. Kamala Harris will be the first woman and first person of color to occupy the US vice presidency.

Michiganders—and Americans—are changing the narrative with their votes, saying America truly is a place for all people.

In Michigan, less than a dozen counties voted blue, but thanks to the dense populations of those municipalities that included Washtenaw, Wayne, and Genesee counties, the state’s 16 electoral votes will be going to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Even national news broadcasts breaking the story of Biden’s return to the White House (this time as president) paused to unpack the gravity of Harris’ election as second-in-command.

“This is an enormously huge moment for Howard University, for all HBCUs, for the AKAs,” NBC News anchor Andrea Mitchell said during a live broadcast Saturday. “There is a cultural phenomenon in the White House that we have never seen before, and that is going to be felt. Just think of the role modeling and the example for Black women and girls.”

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Reactions From Home

Across Michigan, Black women and girls are already reacting to the news of the historic win.

Southfield Public Schools physics teacher Stacey Barrett told The ‘Gander that the win means “everything” to her.

“This is a profound victory for our country, for democracy and a welcome back to what is good and decent in America,” Barrett said. “But to top it off with a pink and green cherry we have a victory that is a first; not just a first for women, but a first for Black women, and women of color. I have always been proud of my Black womanhood but I am deeply moved and so, so proud to be in this moment.”

Barrent says she can identify with vice president-elect Harris as a Black woman, an HBCU graduate, “and a Soror in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.” 

“I look at her accomplishments with awe and great pride. And as a Black woman raising a Black daughter—who just so happens to have political aspirations—this victory means so much to me as both my daughter and I can see a woman who looks like us making positive change.”

Stacey Barrett
Photo courtesy of Stacey Barrett
Photo courtesy of Stacey Barrett

Michigan-born international performer Vie Boheme said she feels “empowered, proud, and excited” seeing a woman in the vice presidency, and that she is “hopeful for the future of people of African diaspora.”

“I don’t know what kind of sacrifices she [Harris] had to make to reach the levels that she did,” Boheme said of issues with Harris’ record of imprisoning Black and brown men during her tenure as California’s attorney general. “And I don’t know what her plans are for the future, but I can only hope that she plans to right those vibrations that she put into the earth, as she encourages Joe Biden to do the same with his own vibrations as president.”

Photo credit: Amy Jeanchaiyaphum
Photo courtesy of Vie Boheme

Chair of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners Stephanie Moore (affectionately known in her community as “the people’s commissioner”) said she is overjoyed by the news of Harris’ election, and that she knows “the ancestors are dancing” in celebration with her.

“She didn’t crack the glass ceiling, she shattered it. And that’s what we needed.”

Stephanie Moore

The ‘Gander asked attorney and Michigan state Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (D-35) if she had White House aspirations for her own public service career. The freshman congress member is currently celebrating re-election to her second term in office. 

“It’s hard to be what you cannot see. Seeing Kamala Harris—who is not only a Black woman, but is also an attorney, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., like I am—ascend to the vice presidency in this extraordinary moment is impactful beyond words.”

Kyra Harris Bolden
This local politician grew up during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Photo courtesy Kyra Bolden)

Bolden said she’s grateful for the faith her constituents are putting in her for another term.

“I will continue to look to vice president-elect Harris as a role model for my career,” she said. “Whatever the future holds.”

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Moore also cautions Michiganders to remember context as they celebrate.

“Since the [women’s] suffrage movement, our country has made sure that the ‘first’ woman anyone was a white woman,” she said. “Today, to the millions of Black women who voted her in, I definitely say ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to the Black women—who once again—saved our country.”

Boheme says she is also familiar with the anecdote that Black women are the “backbone” of the Democratic Party, but that she also believes people live long lives and are capable of evolving over time.

“I think we can look at people in a very small container. She [Harris] still has so much time—,” Boheme paused to calculate how much time would pass if Biden were to serve two terms as president, and if Harris were to succeed him for two of her own. “Potentially 16 years—to do more and to do differently. But it does feel good to see a Black woman break through a glass ceiling.”

Chandra Scott-Lewis, a local business owner and public relations specialist, said the win means her 14-year-old daughter can witness another “can-do” moment.”

“I always strive to demonstrate ‘can-dos’ to my daughter, Cydney. You can run your own business. You can vote and your voice matters. And now, thanks in large part to the support of Black and brown people, my daughter has now witnessed historic can-dos—the election of the first Black US president and the first Black woman US vice president.”

Chandra Scott-Lewis

Bolden called the historic election inspirational.

“Watching vice president-elect Harris handle unfair criticism, often couched in racism and sexism, with grace and grit is an inspiration, not just to me, but to Black women and girls everywhere.”

Not Just Black, Not Just Women

Other Michiganders spoke to the excitement they felt at the unity the Biden-Harris administration could bring to the US.

With one Michigander already looking forward to the vice president-elect’s own ascension to the oval office.

Beyond that aspiration, young Michiganders like Barrett’s daughter have a new role model as they prepare to shape the Michigan–and America—of the future.

“This is a most beautiful Saturday, and one I will never forget,” Barrett said. “I have hope for my daughter, and my daughter’s daughters, and theirs, and theirs.”

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