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Why Kamala Harris' shoutouts to AKAs and HBCUs matter so much

CNN's Van Jones gets emotional talking about the significance of Kamala Harris' vice presidential acceptance speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 7:31 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2020 7:31 PM

Just because the speech wasn't too surprising doesn't mean that it wasn't impactful.

During the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Kamala Harris accepted her party's vice presidential nomination -- and as she did, she brought a rich history of Black womanhood with her, and embraced what makes her different at a moment afflicted by division.

Unlike some in past cohorts of politicians, Harris didn't downplay the tapestry of her identity for the sake of a gauzy concept of unity. (Why would she? Hang-ups with her identity say more about others than her.) Instead, she elevated what makes her stand out -- in ways big and, seemingly, small.

"Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha, our Divine Nine, and my HBCU brothers and sisters," Harris said.

She was referring to the nickname for America's nine historically Black fraternities and sororities, and nodding to the fact that she's the first graduate of a historically Black college or university to be selected as a major party candidate's running mate.

Harris' remarks couldn't have contrasted more with President Donald Trump's rhetoric over the past four years.

Nasty. Shithole countries. Go back. Whereas Trump has spent years using his position in the White House to excoriate otherness and to prop up the country's many hierarchies, Harris used the convention's stage to do the precise opposite.

"I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America," she said. "I do so, committed ... to a vision passed on through generations of Americans -- one that Joe Biden shares. A vision of our nation as a beloved community -- where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love."

At a time when the leader of an awesomely powerful country points to our differences as un-American, Harris demonstrated that, actually, our differences are the most American thing.

But she didn't just implicitly rebuke the President. She also pushed even those who view themselves as liberal to reexamine whom history has held up and rewarded.

"This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. And we celebrate the women who fought for that right," Harris said. "Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification."

She then said the names of some of the Black women who fought for access to the ballot, and for civil rights more broadly, but who've suffered from historical elision: Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley, Shirley Chisholm.

"Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought -- not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed," Harris said.

The newly minted vice presidential nominee name-checked someone else, too: her mother, who, to Harris, was just as much of a trailblazer as the aforementioned women.

"(Shyamala Gopalan) came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris -- who had come from Jamaica to study economics," Harris said. "They fell in love in that most American way -- while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1385749

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1538881574
Cuyahoga1358332341
Hamilton987081326
Montgomery679671161
Summit568451051
Lucas51531869
Butler48000663
Stark42232983
Lorain32046539
Warren30404338
Mahoning27463643
Clermont25990297
Lake24809422
Delaware22566147
Licking20767246
Fairfield20730223
Greene20611275
Trumbull20257516
Medina20074290
Clark18170332
Richland16680236
Portage16389231
Wood15926209
Allen14333261
Miami14018261
Muskingum12927155
Wayne12185244
Columbiana11980242
Tuscarawas11204271
Marion10908150
Pickaway10606129
Scioto10531127
Erie9864171
Ross9612177
Lawrence8934125
Hancock8603143
Ashtabula8474187
Geauga8251156
Belmont8236188
Jefferson7691175
Huron7537131
Union742651
Washington7380126
Athens709365
Sandusky6963135
Darke6875137
Knox6812122
Seneca6519137
Ashland6051115
Auglaize595388
Shelby5820104
Brown575372
Mercer565190
Defiance5564101
Crawford5563117
Madison551071
Highland549282
Fulton542583
Clinton533781
Logan518687
Preble5102111
Putnam4900107
Guernsey484364
Williams468982
Perry462254
Champaign454264
Ottawa442484
Jackson434563
Pike398345
Morrow396451
Coshocton391969
Fayette383753
Adams369275
Hardin366170
Gallia355458
Holmes3321111
Henry329869
Van Wert320771
Hocking310770
Wyandot285458
Carroll266352
Paulding246443
Meigs221742
Monroe192749
Noble174142
Morgan170029
Harrison160741
Vinton141319
Unassigned05
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