(The Southern African Times) – 100 years ago, women in America were granted the right to vote. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920. But this didn’t include African American women and wouldn’t include them for five decades. African American women were only allowed to 45 years later. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law on August 6, 1965.
55 years ago, African American women could not vote.
November 7, 2020 marks another pivotal moment in women’s history and American history.
Kamala Harris is now the first female Vice President, the first black Vice President and the first Indian Vice President of the United States.
Making her the most powerful woman in the world.
Though prolonged ballot counting and President Donald Trump’s reaction on Twitter has been front and centre during this election. This moment right here needs to be properly celebrated. As a black woman and a politics graduate who hopes to have a career in politics one day I am left in awe.
Harris didn’t win this race alone, which makes this moment even more special. Despite a pandemic and ethnic minorities being hit by the coronavirus more than any other race in the U.S. Black women came out in numbers, black women exercised their right to vote, black women wanted to be heard and they were! Black women rallied around the Democratic Party and made this win possible.
According to the exit polls, 91% of black women in the U.S voted for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Historically black women in the U.S have been oppressed, underrepresented and side-lined. In 1962, civil rights activist Malcolm X gave a speech and said: “the most disrespected, unprotected, neglected person in America is the Black woman”. In 2020 black women in the U.S have shown strength, resilience and unity.
CNN’s Abby Philip had a powerful moment during the network’s election coverage, she perfectly articulated what this moment means for black women.
Philip said, “I think seeing a Black woman on the ticket with Joe Biden, on the cusp of this moment, I think is something that will go down in history because this has never happened before.”
She added: “And not only would Black women put Joe Biden in the White House, but they would also put a Black woman in the White House as well and that is the sort of historical poetry that I think we will live with for a long time.”
“In addition to the fact that Donald Trump’s political career began with the racist birther lie, it may very well end with a black woman in the White House.”
Wearing a suffragette white pantsuit and walking to Mary J Blige’s song ‘Work That”on Saturday, Vice President elect Kamala Harris addressed the nation and echoed the same message, whilst paying tribute to women who paved the way for her. Including her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who left India for America at the age of 19.
Harris thanked Black women, saying they are “too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said.
“Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
“And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before. And we will applaud you every step of the way,” she said.
Though a few women already sit in positions of power such as Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, Theresa May, former UK Prime Minister and Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand, just to name a few. None of these women look like me or have a similar background to me, so aspiring to be like them often felt like wishful thinking. Kamala Harris has changed this for me and all the black and brown girls and women across the world.
Many people have a had lot to say about Harris career as a prosecutor and attorney general in the state of California and her role in shaping the criminal justice system. But there’s a time and a place for everything. Right now, this moment and achievement cannot be taken away from her. Credit must be given where it’s due.
Sitting in the highest office of the land is never an easy job and as a black woman coming in when the U.S is more divided than ever. I’m sure her time in the White House won’t be easy. But I am certain she will tackle the role of Vice President with the same grace, strength and confidence she’s carried throughout her legal career.
Kamala Harris’s win is a win for women and girls all over the world. It’s a great moment to remind young girls and women all over the globe that we can do anything and be anything! Regardless of your age, gender and race. And when we come together, we can be heard very loudly.
Today I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a black woman and I’m inspired to continue the momentum of breaking glass ceilings.
Samantha Tapfumaneyi is a freelance presenter/journalist. Currently working at CNN International. She has also worked with numerous other companies in the UK including BBC, Channel 5 News, Swindon 105.5, Model United Nations, Invictus Games & Many More. This has given her the opportunity to report at places such as Downing Street.