Washington: Kamala Devi Harris, born to immigrants from India and Jamaica amid the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, was sworn in as the 49th vice president of the United States on Wednesday, making history for her race and gender in a country that is again torn apart over fulfilling its promise of equality.
Harris, who as a toddler was pushed in her stroller through civil rights marches in the Berkeley Hills, is the first Californian in the White House since Ronald Reagan and only the second person from the state to hold the vice presidency, joining Richard Nixon.
None of the 48 vice presidents to serve before her has been Black, Asian or female and only one of 46 presidents in American history, Barack Obama, is Black.
To mark those achievements, Harris, 56, was sworn in on a lightly snowy and breezy day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the high court’s first Latina, with Bibles owned by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, its first African American, and Regina Shelton, a childhood neighbor whom Harris regarded as a second mother.
Her husband Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, held the Bibles and hugged her afterward as she exchanged fist bumps with the new president, Joe Biden. Sotomayor mispronounced her first name.
“When she takes the oath of office little girls and boys across the world will know that anything is possible,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who competed with Harris for the presidential nomination, said from the podium minutes before Harris was sworn in.