‘It doesn’t hurt that she’s making history’: Legislators, activists on Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris

  • Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., high-fives with 2-year-old Isabelle Chan of Newton, Mass. at the Common Man Restaurant, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in Concord, N.H.   AP PHOTO/ELISE AMENDOLA  

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrive to speak at a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug., 12, 2020.   AP PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER  

  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday. AP PHOTO 

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2020 4:57:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Following the historic selection of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, as Joe Biden’s pick for vice president, area legislators and activists weighed in on Harris’ potential to energize the Democratic party and make history as the first woman of color to hold the office of vice president.

Activist Loretta Ross, a visiting associate professor at Smith College, said that she is “thrilled” about Harris’ selection. She noted the former presidential candidate’s background as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, “which is very needed in this time of all the immigrant bashing that is taking place,” and appreciates the role Harris has played as a “ruthless interrogator” of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr.

Harris, 55, also “brings excitement to the campaign,” Ross said. “It’s not  just anti-Trump now — it’s pro-Biden, pro-Kamala. People need to have a vision of what they’re fighting for, not just what they’re fighting against.”

Ross said that although her first choice would have been Sen. Elizabeth Warren, followed by Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, she still places Harris at the top of her list for vice presidential picks and is “very pleased that Biden had so many good choices.”

State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, said she was glad to see Biden choose a woman of color, though she would have liked to see “a far more progressive ticket” from Democrats.

Still, she said that people must unite behind the nomination to remove Trump from office.

“The presidential ticket is running against Donald Trump,” Sabadosa said, “so when we are picking a candidate at this point, we can pick the person who has been rolling back protections left and right for pretty much every group in the country, or we can pick someone who may not have the past that we want, but at the very least can put her head down and focus on progressive ideas right now.”

State Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, was more enthusiastic about Harris, stating that she is “very excited” about the selection.

“It’s inclusive, she’s brilliant, she has an incredible track record when it comes to supporting farm workers and unions, as well as getting good deals for consumers,” Domb said.

Additionally, she said, “It doesn’t hurt that she’s making history.”

Black women have run for president in the past, usually on third party tickets. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman, and the first woman, to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. But Harris’ possible ascension to the office of vice president would be unprecedented in American history in a few different ways, said Libby Sharrow, an assistant professor of history and political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“If Harris and Biden are elected, she will break a three-centuries old barrier to become the nation’s first female vice president, the first black vice president and the first female black vice president,” Sharrow said. “All of those things are significant in their own right. She will also be the first multiracial vice president the country has ever had.”

Sharrow also noted that Harris’ selection could have a “role model effect,” inspiring more women of color to go into politics.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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