On Wednesday, January 20, history will be made. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will swear in Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. A first for the country, Harris will sit as the country’s first Black, South Asian, and female VP and will take her oath in front of the first Latina and third female justice.
Justice Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009 by President Barack Obama, and this will be the second time she will take part in a presidential inauguration. In 2013, she swore in then vice-president Joe Biden.
First reported by ABC News, Harris’s inauguration plan is full of commemorative details for the first people of color in government.
At the event, Harris will use two Bibles to be sworn in. One of them belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court Justice and one of her personal heroes. She even credited him as one reason she attended an HBCU (Historically Black University,) Howard University.
My childhood hero and inspiration, Thurgood Marshall, was born on this day in 1908. Our nation is stronger because of his powerful voice for civil rights and social justice. pic.twitter.com/mPvcEOn6S9
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 2, 2020
“As a daughter of parents who were active in the civil rights movement, I knew that the fight for civil rights, the fight for equality, the fight for justice is going to take place in many ways, but one of the most significant ways (is) by lawyers understanding the power of their advocacy to make change and to make reform happen,” Harris shared.
The other belonged to Regina Shelton, whom Harris considered a mother figure. In an op-ed for Bustle, titled, “Without This Woman, I Wouldn’t Be The Senator I Am Today,” Harris wrote about Shelton and how she would think of her ‘enduring and encouraging presence’ in her life.
“And when I took the oath of office to be attorney general of California, and later, a United States senator, it was on Mrs. Shelton’s Bible that I laid my hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. In office and into the fight, I carry Mrs. Shelton with me always,” which Harris will now carry into the role as Vice-President of the United States.
After her victory in November’s election, Harris recalled her mother, Shymala Gopalan Harris, telling her daughter she’d be the first woman to break barriers, and urged her to keep those doors open for other people to follow in her footsteps.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said.
This week will be a giant leap for the progression of women. It will mark a moment in history that has been long sought after. A person of color, particularly a woman, will hold a seat as Vice President of the United States. A country so deeply embedded in racism and sexism is giving a chance for hope to communities that have been deprived of opportunities. Two days after Martin Luther King’s Day, the inauguration is the type of dream he died for.