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)

Herald Staff

Several Cincinnati women said they are excited and proud to have Kamala Harris serving as the first woman and person of color in her new role as Vice President, the second highest office in the United States of America.

Former California Senator Kamala Harris took the oath of office as the country’s Vice President on January 20, as Joe Biden, former Vice President to President Barack Obama was also sworn in as President.

Dr. Shelley Jefferson Hamler, an educator with a doctorate in education and president of president of Cincinnati OH Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, said, “I am ecstatic that former California Senator Kamala Devi Harris made history on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, to be elected as the first woman, the first Black, the first Asian American and the first HBCU graduate who attended Howard University, to the position of the Vice President of the United States of America. W-O-W that just sounds good!’’ 

“Vice President Kamala Harris has broken the glass ceiling into a billion little pieces. She has worked feverishly with much pride and intent from the beginning of her career, as the deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California. She then worked for an attorney as the chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division, specializing in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. She was the first Black woman to be elected district attorney in San Francisco from 2004 to 2010. She served as the attorney general of California from 2011-2017, becoming the first woman, the first Black and first South Asian American to serve as California’s Attorney General. During this tenure she won a $25 billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis. She became a U.S. Senator in 2016. While in the U.S. Senate, she drew attention for being so focused on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Shelley Jefferson Hamler, Ed.D; President, Cincinnati OH Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. Photo provided

“I share this information, because it is obvious that Vice President Harris has worked tirelessly, FOR THE PEOPLE, no matter their race, gender or ethnicity. She’s will be the Vice President for all Americans.

“Vice President Kamala Harris gives little brown girls hope and belief that their dreams no longer have to be deferred. They can be whoever they desire to be, as long as they are determined, work hard, believe in themselves and never give up. And yes, they too, can become the next poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, Vice President Kamala Harris and then, on to become the President of the United States of America! 

“Vice President Kamala Harris has unabashedly earned the right to hold the second highest ranking position of our country. We are so blessed and fortunate to have her! She and President Biden will work collaboratively to move our country in the right direction. They have my total support, and I pray that they have yours, as well!”

Lindsey Wilhelm, a founding board member of the Indian American Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati and Vice President of D.A.G. Construction Co. Inc., said,  “Having an Indian and woman hold such a high office is evidence of America’s substantial growth. I am so excited for what she means for our Indian community here in America.  I am also humbled, as I completely understand the sacrifices our first  generation Indians made to afford this opportunity for Vice President Harris and all Indian women in America.  I also recognize the future opportunities following generations will now have because of her. It is truly historic and inspiring.”

Lindsey Wilhelm; Founder, Indian American Chamber of Commerce. Photo provided

Dr. Janet B. Reid said, “This historic moment in our nation’s history is a source of great pride. A Black and Asian woman, married to a White man, and sworn in by a Latina Supreme Court judge is so representative of the rich tapestry of America. Vice President Kamala Harris is also a graduate of my alma mater, Howard University. I have great hope for our future.”

Janet B. Reid, Ph.D.; Graduate of Howard University and Entrepreneur. Photo provided

Ruby Crawford-Hemphill said that as a Black woman who has been really involved in supporting social justice and equity in the community, health issues and others in the corporate world, that “to watch her [Kamala Harris] become the first woman of African and Asian descent become the Vice President of the United States was the most rewarding day in my entire life.

“She is representing the hope for other women and especially African American women and Asian women that we too can aspire to the highest office in the United States of America. Her acknowledgment of her roots, especially HBCUs, says a lot. They [Howard University] prepared her. For all the work she has done, she was able to stand up and take the oath of office and represent us as the Vice President of the United States.”

Ruby Crawford-Hemphill, a community equity and social justice advocate. Photo provided

When asked about what the impact Vice President Kamala Harris will have on history, Hemphill said, “All I can say it’s good to be on the right side of history. To actually see it, watch her run and she did a good job running. She earned the right to be there and we can say, ‘ Wow, it really happened.’ It is so exciting. I am proud of her and she is a member of our beloved Links organization. I know the work and commitment we do to serve our community that as Vice President Harris will take that vision and mission with her [into the office] and to make sure that happens.’’

Shelly Sherman, Executive Director of Talent Management for the University of Cincinnati and a member of several women’s organizations in the area, said, “As an African American woman, it is hard to express the pride I felt, seeing someone who looks like me ascend to the second highest office in the land. Witnessing the historic moment when Kamala Harris became Vice President of the United States filled me with such hope. That moment was an example to my young granddaughters that when they grow up, not only can they marry the President of the United States, but by then they can BE the President of the United States.”

Shelly Sherman, Executive Director of Talent Management for the University of Cincinnati. Photo provided

Although Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, president of Howard University, is not local, his comments are included here:

Wayne A. I. Frederick; President, Howard University. Photo provided

 “It is with tremendous pride that I offer congratulations on behalf of the entire Howard University family to one of our own, Kamala Harris, in honor of her inauguration to become the 49th vice president in the history of the United States.

“This is a great day for Harris, for Howard and for our country as a whole. It is a great day for the African American community, the South Asian American community and all American communities.    Harris’ ascendence is a powerful symbol of the progress our country has made. To be sure, that progress has been inconsistent, and our country is far from perfect. But we would be remiss to overlook the significance of what Harris’ inauguration represents. That a Black woman can rise to hold the second most powerful office in the entire country, especially in the midst of continuing inequality, injustice and intolerance, is a decisive testament to our country’s values and its future trajectory. Yes, we have more work to do to bring about greater equality, justice and tolerance and to ensure that our country is indeed moving forward on the right and righteous path. But today is a reminder of the great American potential should we all continue to dedicate ourselves toward realizing a better society.

“From her days as an undergraduate economics and political science student at Howard, it was clear that Harris was bound for greatness. She was singularly gifted at debate and had a hunger for knowledge and information. She combined her personal attributes and strength of character with a Howard education to forge a life dedicated to societal, not personal, advancement. “Because of her accomplishments, and because of her continued efforts, our country is becoming more tolerant of every person’s ambitions, regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity. No longer does anyone have the right to tell Black boys and girls to set their sights lower, to dream smaller, to be more realistic. We need only point to Kamala Harris when telling our children that anything they can imagine, they can achieve.”

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