AUSTIN, Texas - Kamala Harris is the first Black and Asian American woman nominated for vice president by a major party.
On Tuesday, following Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s announcement, members of Austin’s Black community reflected on the historical importance of that.
In a tweet, Biden called Harris “a fearless fighter for the little guy” and “one of the country’s finest public servants,” but to people in Austin’s Black neighborhoods, she’s also someone who has opened the door for new opportunities.
“So this is just another great opportunity to see a black woman in a position of leadership and willing to do the work under the most abnormal and oftentimes challenging circumstances,” said Austin City Council member Natasha Harper-Madison, District 1.
The sitting U.S. Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate, California Attorney General, and San Francisco district attorney has already held several powerful titles in her 55 years. Now she can add one more, vice presidential candidate and Joe Biden’s running mate.
“She's spoken out. I think she has a lot of fire. I think she has a lot of fight. I think that she's historically grounded. And I think that always matters,” said Carla Brailey, vice chairwoman of the Texas Democratic Party.
“I absolutely, wholeheartedly believe that she's competent and capable and extraordinarily brilliant, and, frankly, just an extraordinary person. So I think she would be exactly what we need in that position and would make us all very, very proud and happy to have her in that position,” Harper-Madison said.
At a time when the country feels divided and racial justice has become a renewed priority, could having a former prosecutor on the ticket help bring the country together?
“I think recognizing that her special skill set, including having to face the challenges of being a Black woman in this country, a Black prosecutor in this country and what that looked like for defendants, I think it's a very important skill set to bring to the table,” said Harper-Madison.
Texas Democrats hope Harris can help them flip the Lone Star State blue in 2020.
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“I think her dynamic approach, she's going to excite a lot of people, but, to be honest about it, I think this current environment is gonna inspire a lot of black folks to vote anyway, but she certainly is exciting,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin NAACP.
“The ticket always is extremely important. And I think it would really help to the morale, the organizing to mobilize in Texas both women, both men, when you look across race, when you look across gender and class, I think that this is going to matter. This changes the game,” Brailey said.
Harris and Biden are expected to make a formal announcement Wednesday.