By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated chapter at Tennessee State University say they are proud to see Kamala Harris, a fellow member and HBCU grad, become vice president of the United States, but they’re even more excited about the attention she brings to historically black colleges and universities.
Harris was sworn in at a star-studded inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., now the 46th president of the United States. Harris is an alumna of Howard University, an HBCU.
“Senator Harris’ swearing in is a full circle moment for HBCUs and African-American Greek organizations that worked tirelessly to give the black community a voice from the turn of the century, through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, to present day,” said AKA International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover, who is also president of TSU. “Vice President Harris’ ascension to a successful, dedicated public servant is a direct correlation to the philosophy HBCUs and our Black Greek organizations impress upon our students.”
Before the inauguration, Glover announced that the service organization would declare Wednesday, January 20, 2021 as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day.
“Like so many of you, I am simply beaming with pride as we witness the inauguration ceremony of a HBCU graduate, member of the Divine Nine, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kamala D. Harris, to the Office of Vice President of the United States,” said Glover.
Junior Tiara Thomas, a member of TSU’s Alpha Psi Chapter of AKA and student representative on the university’s Board of Trustees, said she was “overwhelmed with emotions” when Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I am joyful to see a black woman elevate to such heights, especially during these racially divided times,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi. “VP Harris has done for little black girls what President (Barack) Obama was able to do for little black boys. Vice President Harris has broken the concrete ceiling for girls like me aspiring to succeed in politics. I could one day be the next Kamala Harris.”
AKA member Jeia Moore is a junior from Memphis majoring in business information systems. She said the fact that Harris graduated from an HBCU shines a spotlight on the 100-plus historically-black institutions.
“It shows that despite their struggles, HBCUs prepare students for success,” said Moore. “As an HBCU student at TSU, I’m ready for what comes after graduation.”
AKA member Ammria Carter agreed. “It speaks volumes to how prepared you can be after attending an HBCU,” said Carter, a junior political science major from Cleveland, Ohio. “Vice President Harris has inspired me to work even harder.”
When Biden selected Harris to be his running mate, TSU Political Science Professor Brian Russell predicted Harris would cause more young people to consider attending HBCUs if she became vice president.
“It’s going to energize a lot of younger African-American students to look in the HBCU direction,” said Russell. “That’s going to be exciting.”
In a virtual address to TSU’s faculty and staff on Tuesday, Glover said she is among HBCU leaders who have personally met with Biden and Harris to discuss ways to help HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. Glover said the Biden-Harris administration has pledged $70 billion to the institutions, including $20 billion that will help them increase research facilities they need to compete with larger universities.