Amelia Ashley Ward, the Sun Reporter newspaper publisher in San Francisco, could hardly contain her emotions when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was announced as the running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“I cried,” said Ward, who has remained close friends with Harris for more than two decades. “I know that she is qualified, and she is for the people. I’ve always felt that God had a little something special for her.”
Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, said Harris is highly qualified with a proven record of fighting for human and civil rights.
“As a Black woman born to immigrant parents, Sen. Harris understands, personally, how devastatingly unjust the Trump-Pence administration’s attacks on our most basic rights have been. She knows how it feels and what it means to be targeted because of race, gender, and national origin,” Howell said.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called Biden’s selection of Harris a “defining moment.”
“Sen. Kamala Harris, as the first vice presidential candidate of a major political party, breaks down one of these barriers in historic proportions,” Johnson said. “This announcement is even more powerful as it comes at a time when Black Americans face dueling threats — a global health crisis and ingrained racism. This moment is long overdue.”
Back in the Bay area, Ward said most people are thrilled and proud that their native daughter can lead America’s future.
“I believe many of us will work overtime to help elect President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Ward said. “I believe once elected November 3; Vice President Harris will work alongside President Biden to immediately put this country back on track. She is no stranger to controversy, and she certainly is not afraid of working to make the country better.”
In recent weeks, supporters of the president and many in the GOP have ramped up attacks against Harris and the other Black women considered by Biden.
In an open letter by nearly 700 Black women leaders, the attacks were roundly denounced.
“Black women are many things. We are business executives, political strategists, and elected officials, philanthropists, and activists,” read the letter, which was circulated throughout the media and posted to various social media accounts. “We are health and wellness practitioners. We are entertainers and faith leaders. We are wives, mothers, daughters, educators, and students. We set and shift culture. We build power, and we are powerful.”
Among the many Black women who signed the open letter are Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Maya Cummings, Dr. Hazel Dukes, Suzanne de Passe, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Cora Masters Barry, Melanie Campbell and Karen Boykin-Towns.
“We are the highest propensity voters in this nation. We are a coalition of Black women leaders, who, in this inflection point of the Black liberation movement, where people around the world are galvanized to action, know that the time for Black women in the United States is now,” the women wrote in the letter.
Ward said she believes Harris is up to facing down those who might spew racist or sexist hate toward her.
“Sen. Harris is no stranger to rude and negative folks,” she said. “She has dealt with racism and sexism since the beginning of her 18-year political career. She is driven, fearless, tried, tested and qualified. She will give Trump and Pence all that they can handle.”