Editor’s Note: We asked Tustin Mayor Pro Tem Letitia Clark to weigh in on Joe Biden’s selection of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Watching the social media posts increase exponentially as the message across the country spread about Biden selecting Senator Kamala Harris for his Vice Presidential pick, was euphoric for me. As one of the very few Black elected officials in Orange County—proud is not quite the word.
Proud because I know what it will mean to the Black community and young girls of color to see a Black woman in this position. Simply put, representation matters.
The phrase, “If you can see it, you can believe it, you can achieve it” was the mantra along my path to politics. My political career began after living in New Orleans during my college studies when I worked on local campaigns for extra money. At 18 years old, for the first time in my life, I saw on the cover of pamphlets and mailers—Black women running for judge, mayor, senate and the list goes on. That moment cemented my belief that I too could run for office one day and as an Orange County native, I never thought this was a real possibility.
After working on several campaigns, I changed my major from pre-law to political science and got a job with a Black female council member for the City of New Orleans and worked for her through Hurricane Katrina, yet another experience that cemented the power and prowess of Black women in elected office for me. Over a decade later, I moved back to my hometown and found myself in a position to run for office. I was successful in 2016, against all odds. Now as Mayor Pro Tem on the Tustin City Council, I am up for re-election and am promoting more women of color in elected office more than ever.
That’s why the announcement of Senator Harris as VP on the 2020 Democratic ticket meant so much to me and why it should be a source of inspiration and comfort for the rest of the nation.
Inspiration because Kamala will inspire our next generation of leadership in America, as the first Black and Asian woman in this position. Representation matters and her presence and position will make a difference.
Comfort, because frankly, Black women get the job done. Long have Black women been the source of getting key Democrats elected. We are the backbones of our families, the voices of our neighborhoods, and we know how to endure personal pain and scrutiny, yet can fight for progress for the greater good.
Shirley Chisolm said in her bid for the Presidential nomination in 1972, “I realize this is a rough road, but a catalyst for change in society is usually persona non grata with those who have been beneficiaries of the system. A catalyst for change has to be able to withstand the insults, the humiliations, the abuses and the slurs.”
Senator Harris will no doubt have her fair share of insults, abuses and slurs for the next several weeks. But Kamala has been a fighter her whole career, and she’ll be an unstoppable force on the campaign trail.
For the naysayers, Kamala is not perfect, but will indeed get the job done.
Biden/Harris for the win.