Sen. Kamala Harris’s nomination for vice president marks a historic first.
As Joe Biden’s running mate, Harris is the first Black woman and the first South Asian American woman to be named a vice presidential nominee on a major-party ticket.
In a speech announcing her candidacy, she acknowledged the legacies of the women who’ve run in the past. “Joe, I’m so proud to stand with you,” Harris said Wednesday. “And I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.”
Harris’s nomination follows the groundbreaking efforts of several women who’ve pursued the presidency including Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run in 1972 for the Democratic nomination; Patsy Mink, the first Asian American woman to do so that same year, and Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win a major-party nomination in 2016. (Harris is the third woman to be on a major-party ticket as vice president, along with Sarah Palin in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.)
Miami University history professor Tammy Brown sees Chisholm’s candidacy in particular — and the intersectional policies she promoted — serving as a key milestone that led to this moment.
“She bridged so many different constituencies and she was an excellent model of the power of grassroots campaigns,” Brown told Vox.
In 1968, Chisholm was the first Black woman to win a seat in Congress, and four years later, she ran for the Democratic presidential nomination against Sen. George McGovern, pushing a platform focused on racial and gender equity.
“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism,” Chisholm wrote in her book, Unbought and Unbossed, which was titled after a campaign slogan she used to signal independence from party bosses. Harris, during her presidential run in 2019, honored Chisholm in her own campaign messaging as well.