Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on the November ballot, making her the first Black woman nominated for vice president by a major party.
“This is a special time and Black people should be marching in the streets,” Congresswoman Frederica Wilson told The Miami Times. “It is a time that we can say Black America has broken the glass ceiling.”
Harris originally ran against Biden for the Democratic nomination for presidency but lost.
“I endorsed Harris at first but when she bowed out, Mr. Biden asked me for my endorsement and I gave it,” said Wilson, who is a congressional colleague, friend and sorority sister to Harris.
Harris tweeted her first reaction on Tuesday, stating "I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”
Both Harris and Biden have sought to settle past contentions and work together amicably, but voters recall how she challenged him over his past resistance to federally mandated desegregation busing.
Steven Meza, now one of the youngest candidates in the Florida Senate race history, said he is excited for Harris because “she is unapologetic when making good trouble, bold to say the things most won’t and willing to hold those to account; that energy is needed now more than ever to right the wrongs of the Trump administration.”
On Tuesday, Biden tweeted “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau [Biden’s son]. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I'm proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign."
Mayor of Miramar and former presidential candidate Wayne Messam said that with Harris on the ticket the Democratic party has a good chance of regaining the White House, but no “candidate is without flaw.”
“There are some questions regarding her past record as attorney general that she will have to address as she has been criticized about prosecutorial record from some instances,” he said.
In 2014, as California attorney general, when a federal judge in Orange County ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, Harris appealed. That same year, she declined to take a position on Proposition 47, a ballot initiative approved by voters, that reduced certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors.
Rodney Jacobs, who performs police oversight for the city of Miami and was a canvasser for Elizabeth Warren in South Florida when she was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, believes in Harris’ ability to the job.
“I’m proud of this pick by Biden. I admire Senator Harris and I believe it will energize and unify all Americans,” he said. “She’s not as progressive as Warren, but not many people are.”
President Trump said in a press conference on Tuesday that he was surprised at Biden’s choice because he said Harris is “just about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate,” citing issues like sanctuary cities, open borders and raising taxes.
“Donald Trump is a fool and Biden is going to need the strength and the intelligence and the courage and the power of a Kamala Harris to win this election,” said Wilson.
Former Florida Senator Dwight Bullard is equally enthusiastic of the selection.
“As a fellow HBCU graduate, I’m excited to see one of our own represented at the top of the ticket,” he said.
Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986 with a double major in political science and economics. She interned as a mailroom clerk for California Senator Alan Cranston, chaired the economics society, led the debate team, demonstrated against apartheid and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
As a professor at Florida Memorial University, Miami’s only historically black college, Jefferson Noel believes that “Biden needed a woman with a powerful voice who is strong-willed [enough] to take action on the issues facing Black and minority communities.”
Further, he believes her immigrant background gives her a unique experience pursuing the “American dream so she will use it to bring the nation closer to its ideals.”
Harris’s father is a professor of economics who migrated from Jamaica; her mother is a breast cancer scientist who migrated from India.
“This is an example of America in her most authentic form,” said Marlon Hill, candidate for the District 9 commission seat. “Our Black community is multicultural and multi-layered. This moment is something to celebrate.”
Messam, who is also of Jamaican heritage, believes that the “island now has one more thing to be proud of, along with a long list of other things here in America and also the world.”
Tiffani Knowles is the co-author of “HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant” and the online course series by the same name.