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Women discuss Vice President Harris making history with inauguration

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:26 PM CST
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - The inauguration marked not just a new presidency, but a historic milestone for the country. Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman, and the first woman of color, to hold the office.

“It was incredible for me, I honestly teared up a little bit watching her be sworn in because it was kind of a surreal moment,” said Isabella DeVine, an Appleton native currently attending the University of Chicago.

“I got real teary. Feeling hopeful, feeling excited, feeling like it’s about time,” said Jeanne Roberts, the Appleton League of Women Voters President.

It was a moment some women shared with their daughters.

“I watched it with my 10-year-old daughter, and it’s just a joy,” said Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran, a St. Norbert Multicultural Education Professor and co-founder of African Heritage Inc.

“I was getting goosebumps, I was very touched and I could see how my daughter is going to grow up thinking this is normal, this is possible in the United States of America,” said Dr. Juliane Troicki, a UW-Oshkosh Political Science Professor.

For DeVine, she wasn’t sure she’d ever see a woman of color in the White House.

“I want to actually go into politics, it’s what I’m studying in college right now…. As a young girl I never really thought that politics was possible because I wasn’t seeing those figures, those women of color, in high places,” said DeVine. “So I very much was amazed today to see her sworn in because it was one of those moments where I know now little girls will look up to her and see her in that high place and believe they can do that. Because it wasn’t until much later that someone suggested to me ‘Oh, you would be great in politics’ that I actually started to consider it. So I think it’s amazing to have this woman, this strong powerful woman, in this high office.”

Roberts sees the moment as a culmination of a hundred years worth of effort.

“100 years ago, the women of color who worked so hard in the suffrage movement were told they had to march in the back of the line in the Alice Paul parade,” said Roberts. “So not just a woman - a woman of color, a woman whose parents were immigrants. She represents a whole lot for our country.”

But she and others feel there’s more work to be done.

“I think we are at about 26.5 percent of female representation in the Congress,” said Dr. Troicki. “That’s not great. We can do better. So I think we have made strides, but we have a long way to go.”

“This is the time for us as a nation to step up and deconstruct those stereotypes that continue to hinder young girls, that continue to hinder black and brown girls from achieving the dreams that they’re set out to do in society,” said Dr. Delano-Oriaran. “This is a message to America that it’s time that we begin to come together and eradicate all those systems of oppression that continues to oppress black and brown people and women.”

However, they are hopeful that having the first woman vice president will help inspire more change.

“We need to step up, we all need to step up and do better, and this is the time. This is the sign, this is the message to America that we need to do better,” said Dr. Delano-Oriaran.

“Studies have shown when you have women run for office or achieve office, it has a positive after effect. It inspires many women and also girls in the future to run for office,” said Dr. Troicki. “So we will definitely, I’m sure, we will see a huge boost in women willing to run for any political office so that is great. I think it will be wonderful.”

“I don’t have to look into the past anymore to find those key couple figures that are women of color in our history, I can now look to the present and I think that’s really, really exciting,” said DeVine.

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