Kamala Harris, in her Democratic National Convention speech accepting the party’s nomination for vice president in 2020, gave a shout out to her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest Black sorority in the country, and to her “brothers and sisters” of historically Black colleges and universities.
There’s likely a reason she did this: there are more than 100 historically Black colleges in the U.S., giving the Biden-Harris ticket a big advantage if they can energize these young voters. Harris graduated from Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington.
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, already launched a historically Black college initiative at the start of 2020, which includes $70 billion in additional funding to historically black universities and free tuition for historically Black colleges with four-year degrees as part of his “Build Back Better” plan.
Biden’s decision to add a Black female to his ticket who graduated from a historically Black college has brought a boost to his campaign, which raised $48 million in 48 hours of his announcement.
Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, showed his support for Harris on Wednesday night and encouraged his students to do the same.
“I need everyone in their @HowardU gear tonight as @KamalaHarris accepts the nomination for Vice President of the United States. Share and post your pictures tagging #WeAreHUProud,” Frederick tweeted.
Dozens of posters responded posting pictures of themselves in Howard University gear watching the Democratic National Convention.
But the historically Black college connections are about more than getting student voters, there are several prominent alumni that came from Howard University that can help garner support.
Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson, Elijah Cummings and Thurgood Marshall and are all prominent alumni that have left a legacy or continue to push for Black rights in the United States, which is a topic that has been on the forefront of political debates throughout the nation.
In her acceptance speech Wednesday night, Harris addressed the historical significance that this week holds for women, as the 19th amendment was ratified 100 years ago on Aug.18, 1920, and because Harris is the first Black and South Asian American female to be selected as a vice-presidential nominee.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table,” Harris said when talking about suffragists, including Black suffragists who would not all win the right to vote for decades due to certain state laws. “These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed.”
Harris also referenced another prominent figure in the Black community, former Congressman John Lewis, during her acceptance speech.
“In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, I got a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called ‘good trouble,'” Harris said when describing how her parents met while marching during the Civil Rights movement, and then in raising their daughters prior to separating when Harris was five years old.
Addressing the Civil Rights Movement was clear indication that the current Black Lives Matter movement will very much be a part of her candidacy when running against current Vice President Mike Pence.