BY NELSON A. KING
Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Tuesday night described as “a historic milestone” United States Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden’s selection of Caribbean American Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate.
Biden, a former US Vice President, on Tuesday picked Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, in the Democratic race to defeat Republican President Donald J. Trump in November’s US Presidential Elections.
Senator Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian heritage to be nominated for national office by a major US party.
She is also only the fourth woman in American history to be selected for a presidential ticket.
In 1972, the late Shirley Anita Chisholm, née St. Hill, the daughter of a Barbadian mother and a Guyanese father, became the first Caribbean and African American candidate to seek nomination from a major US political party for President of the United States.
“Congratulations to my colleague and sister-in-service Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California on her vice-presidential nomination,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life.
“I am proud to serve in Congress alongside my fellow Jamaican colleague and change maker who is paying the way for women of color in politics and beyond,” she added. “Today truly marks a historic milestone for the Democratic Party and the American People.
“Senator Harris embodies and is the epitome of the American dream,” Clarke continued. “She will be a vigorous campaigner, a fearless leader and a worthy confidante to former Vice President Biden.
“For the first time in our history, millions of little girls of color across our nation will soon have someone in the White House that looks like them and unequivocally speaks for them,” she said.
The congresswoman said Harris’s intellect and ability are “above reproach and serve as an inspiration to us all.”
In selecting Harris, Clarke said Biden has “answered the call of the moment.
“Her selection is the jet fuel that will provide the momentum and excitement required in this transformational era, where change is being demanded in the streets,” she said. “This is a launching pad for the inclusive, people first campaign that will take down the current administration in November.”
Haitian American New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte also told Caribbean Life Tuesday night that Harris is “an inspired choice” and “a well-credentialed woman who is battle-tested on the campaign trail and in debates.
“She will join Joe Biden in restoring saneness and wisdom to the White House while helping to win back the United States Senate,” said Bichotte, chair of the Brooklyn (Kings County) Democratic Party, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“She reflects the rising diversity of the nation and the party,” Bichotte added. “We in Brooklyn are ready to roll up our sleeves and elect the Biden-Harris team this November.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Biden announced Harris as his vice-presidential candidate in a text and follow-up email to supporter.
“Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate,” he said. “Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.”
In response, Harris said in a Twitter post that she was delighted to join Biden on the Presidential ticket.
“Joe Biden can unify the American people, because he’s spent his life fighting for us,’’ she wrote.
In the Democratic Party’s Presidential race, Harris said in early December that she was terminating her bid for the party’s nominee in November’s US Presidential Election because of lack of funding.
She described, in a statement, her decision to quit the race as “one of the hardest decisions of my life,” adding that her campaign “simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.
“I’m not a billionaire,” said Harris, a former attorney general of California and former San Francisco district attorney. “I can’t fund my own campaign. “And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.
“In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do,” continued Harris, who was elected to the US Senate in 2016. “So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”
Harris’s departure from the Democratic Party’s nomination late last year left 15 candidates still in the race, including Biden, who eventually emerged as the party’s Presidential candidate.
If Harris had secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for US President, she would have been the first Caribbean and African American woman to be a major party’s nominee.
Chisholm, who was born on Nov. 30, 1924 and died on Jan. 1, 2005, became the first Caribbean and African American candidate to seek nomination from a major US political party for President of the United States.
In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress.
She then represented New York’s 12th congressional district, in Brooklyn, for seven, two-year terms from 1969 to 1983.
In 2017, Harris was sworn in as a United States Senator for California, the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history.
She serves on the US Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on the Budget.
On her Senate website, Harris said she has spent her life fighting injustice, a passion she said that was first inspired by her mother, Shyamala, an Indian-American immigrant, activist and breast cancer researcher.
Growing up in Oakland, Harris said she had “a stroller-eye view” of the Civil Rights movement.
Through the example of courageous leaders like Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley and Charles Hamilton Houston, Harris said she “learned the kind of character it requires to stand up to the powerful,” resolving to spend her life “advocating for those who could not defend themselves.”
After earning an undergraduate degree from Howard University in Washington and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, Harris began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in California.
In 2003, Harris became the District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco, Ca.
Among her achievements as District Attorney, Harris said she started a program that gives first-time drug offenders “the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.”
Having completed two terms as the District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala was elected as the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General.
In this role, she said she “worked tirelessly to hold corporations accountable and protect the state’s most vulnerable people.”
In the United States Senate, Harris said her mission remains unchanged: “fighting for the rights of all communities in California.”
Since taking office, she said she has introduced and cosponsored legislation to raise wages for working people, “reform our broken criminal justice system, make healthcare a right for all Americans, address the epidemic of substance abuse, support veterans and military families, and expand access to childcare for working parents.”
This story first appeared on our sister publication caribbeanlifenews.com.