Alpha Kappa Alpha members respond to sister Kamala Harris’ VP nomination

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., accepts the vice-presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Photo credit: Associated Press

By Camille Rasor | Arts & Life Editor

As Kamala Harris officially accepted her nomination and began her campaign on the Democratic ticket this month, members of Baylor’s Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter are excited to see their sister make history as the first Black and Asian American woman to run on a major party’s ticket.

Harris, initiated into the sorority in 1986 at Howard University, gave a shoutout to the sisterhood during her official acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.

“Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha, our Divine Nine, and my HBCU brothers and sisters,” Harris said.

Jackson, Miss., senior Emani Sullivan, secretary for Alpha Kappa Alpha, said the sisterhood does not endorse one political party over another. However, the chapter did want to recognize this historic moment and the impact it will have on Black women and girls everywhere as well as the momentousness this nomination brings to the sisterhood and other Divine Nine organizations.

“This organization, we’re very sister-oriented and tight-knit, so she’ll definitely be supported,” Sullivan said. “But I think it’s most important that our values align, and that is where the support is coming from, not from the simple fact that she is a sorority sister.”

Since Harris was announced as the Democratic Party’s pick for vice president, many racist and sexist attacks have been lodged against her. Even President Trump entertained false conspiracy theories surrounding Harris’ eligibility for the vice presidency, calling into question her citizenship even though she was born in Oakland, Calif.

Grand Prairie senior Kennedy Kinnard, financial secretary, historian and global impact chair of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said she expected these attacks when the nomination was announced.

“I had this gut-wrenching feeling. I was happy that we were able to see a Black and South Asian woman nominated to a major party’s ticket, but I knew that her nomination would have a lot of backlash because she’s biracial and she’s visibly a woman of color,” Kinnard said.

Kinnard also expressed disgust over sexist attacks against Harris that she’s seen both in the national media and also from friends and family on social media.

“I knew those things would be problematic, but just overall, I was so happy to see someone who looks like me and who’s also involved in my sorority,” Kinnard said.

Both Kinnard and Sullivan supported other candidates during the Democratic primaries earlier this year, but they both said they would be voting for Biden and Harris in the general election this fall.

“It’s exciting to be able to support your soror, but you also want to make sure that she also supports our community,” Kinnard said. “And I’m pretty sure she will, because that’s something that is taught within our sorority.”

Sullivan echoed that same sentiment, emphasizing her excitement about Harris’ nomination because of the representation it brings for Black women.

“It’s really important to me as a Black woman, specifically, just that we have that representation and that younger women can see,” Sullivan said. “Maybe they don’t want to be a president or vice president or anything but just the fact that like, ‘Oh my gosh, somebody who looks like me, did this amazing thing that none of us have ever done, so I really can do anything I want to do.’ I just think that’s really important for women and people of color.”

In the past, Alpha Kappa Alpha has put on voter registration drives with the Baylor chapter of the NAACP and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. The possibility of the sorority putting on another drive is still up in the air.

“We haven’t really finalized all the events that we’re going to be doing this year,” Kinnard said. “But I think, given that it is an election year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we tried to incorporate another voter registration drive and really emphasizing voter education and the importance of voting at the local level as well.”