Massachusetts leaders who are also women of color are applauding the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as Joe Biden's running mate. They said watching her become the first Black woman on a major party's presidential ticket is historic.
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer said she shed a tear after hearing the news. Spicer was the first Black woman to be elected mayor by Massachusetts voters.
"It is phenomenal," Spicer said. "And it resonates so greatly for me, mainly because all of us that are in these 'first' roles, we know we stand on the shoulders of many women and African-American women that have come before us."
The selection also hits home for Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, the first woman of color to serve as a district attorney in Massachusetts. Harris was also a district attorney before becoming California's attorney general, and Rollins hopes voters will focus on her experience as a prosecutor and a senator instead of her race and gender.
"She's a fighter. You don't shatter glass ceilings and kick down cement doors as a timid, meek flower, and we have seen that in the Senate hearings," Rollins said.
More on Kamala Harris
Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell is a longtime Harris supporter. With racial tensions still high across the country, she said there is no better person to address it than someone who has experienced it.
"That's exactly what we need in this time when our country is really at a crossroads," Campbell said. "But regardless of whether or not you agree with every policy stance, at the end of the day, it is time for women to lead."
Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, hopes the selection of Harris will mean a focus on critical issues like racial injustice.
"It absolutely speaks to the power and influence of Black women," Sullivan said. "I think what we will see going forward is continued influence for women, from people of color, about the issues that should be top of the conversation."
"Their chemistry, their track record, tells me that they, in fact, will be able to bring our country together," said Darnell Williams, former CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. "Black people feel empowered, they feel they have finally been validated, but now we have to get out and vote."
For younger women of color, Harris serves as an inspiration.
Origination in Jamaica Plain puts on a show every year called "Our Story," a celebration of the Black experience. A new chapter will have to be added to the story after Harris' selection.
"That's going to make a really great script, a really great scene, and we are all for it," said Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga, the founding artistic director at Origination. "To have a Black woman in a position where she can possibly become our vice president of the United States of America, is a really big deal."