WASHINGTON - D.C. residents are by now well aware of Kamala Harris’ local roots at Howard University.
But now that the California Senator is on the main stage as the first African-American woman to run on a major party’s presidential ticket, we’re learning more about the institutions that forged her – including what the New York Times calls her “Secret Weapon,” the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“The sorority is a group of women, and we believe in service and sisterhood; and one of the things that we are taught is excellence, and to always bring our best foot forward. And Howard University teaches that as well. I believe Howard shaped Kamala to who she is today, as well as the sorority,” said Carla Mannings, who graduated with Harris in 1986.
The New York Times notes that the sheer number of members in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority – as well as its members’ positions in their various cities – could be a boost for the Democrats this fall.
And Mannings says the sorority expects to support her unconditionally.
FOX 5’s Shawn Yancy pointed out in a recent interview that even a year ago, her sisters were voicing their backing.
“Absolutely we will support her. And not only just because we know her. I’ll just speak for my own personal experience. You back a candidate who you believe is the best candidate. And she is the best candidate in my viewpoint. And I believe that she has everything that it takes to be the next vice president of the United States,” Mannings said.
When Biden introduced Harris in their first public appearance together since she joined the ticket, the presumptive nominee said her appointment could inspire young women to envision themselves in the highest offices in the nation.
Jill Louis – who also graduated with Harris in 1986 – said that in the wake of President Obama’s election, it’s another step in making America’s leadership roles more diverse.
I think it becomes a norm that you can reach the highest office. That you can do whatever you want. That you can go to the moon because now there’s an exemplar for that. And I think that that belief – that you can be something because people have seen it, they have understood it, is very important. I felt the same way when Barack Obama was running for president and became president,” Louis said.
She noted that Obama’s election gave her son a template for seeing himself in the world’s most powerful position.
“I like the idea that he could grow up in a world where he could grow up and see someone who looked like him in the highest office of the land. I think that’s part of the American lore. That’s part of knowing that we can truly be a part of anything this country has to offer,” Louis said.