The Vice President of the United States is a woman. That’s a sentence we haven’t been able to say in the 231-year history of the American government.
In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton invited a few women over for tea. Stanton lamented that the American Revolution, which colonists fought 70 years earlier, had not given women the rights afforded to men despite their participation in the war. The women organized and attended a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, later that year to discuss how to advance women’s rights.
Stanton borrowed from the Declaration of Independence to write a Declaration of Sentiments, which stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal…”
As men had shared their grievances with the King of England in their Declaration, Stanton shared women’s grievances with men in theirs. Women were not permitted to vote, share input to create laws, own property, work in the medical or legal field, or attend college. Divorce and child custody laws favored men. Women argued they could not maintain their dignity under the subjugation of men.
For the past two centuries, courageous and heroic women have continued to use their voices to advance their cause. As a result, throughout American history, women have achieved unprecedented progress in the struggle for equal rights. They passed the Nineteenth Amendment, the Equal Pay Act, and Title IX. They launched the Women’s Rights Movement, won the right to make healthcare decisions for themselves, rose to positions of power in corporate America, improved benefits for working mothers, ended the ban on women in combat, passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and awakened the world with the #MeToo movement.
It was only 100 years ago–in 1920–that women gained the right to vote. It’s fitting that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of that achievement by swearing in a woman as vice president.
The magnitude of this moment can’t be overstated.
Colonists began bringing Black women as slaves to Virginia 400 years ago. Four hundred years later, a Black woman has risen to the highest office in the country.
George Washington’s presidency began 231 years ago in 1789. John Adams served as his vice president. In every election since 1789, only men have served as president and vice president. When Harris takes the oath of office, it will mark the end to centuries of gender discrimination that prevented a woman from ascending to the executive branch of government. Every parent in the world should tell this story to their children.
This historic milestone is a victory for Susan B. Anthony, Louisa May Alcott, Nellie Bly, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Dolley Madison. It’s the culmination of the work of Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Barbara Jordan, Geraldine Ferraro, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, and millions of women activists throughout American history. They laid centuries of groundwork to improve American culture and level the playing field.
Kamala Harris will give billions of little girls around the world something special to dream about for their future. America is imperfect, and democracy is messy, but we should pause to celebrate this historic victory.
The Vice President of the United States is a Black woman. Vice President Kamala Harris.