AU students react to Kamala Harris’ historic vice presidential campaign
Students, alumni weigh-in on policy, identity
In August, former Vice President Joe Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate for president, exciting American University students and alumni who have supported Harris in the past during her presidential campaign and as a current senator.
In this historic pick, Harris is both the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated, not only for vice president, but for national office by a major political party. She was one of Biden’s strongest critics during the Democratic primaries, but has been a vocal supporter since ending her own presidential campaign last December.
Harris is also a proud alumna of Howard University and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority, a historically Black Greek organization, which she mentioned in her nomination acceptance speech.
India Card, a senior in the School of Public Affairs and the sole member and president of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha at AU said that while she is not speaking as a representative of her sorority, it was inspiring to see a woman she can relate to have a national platform.
“For a Black woman who was also a member of my sorority and is also familiar with the D.C. area, a Howard graduate, to hear that she could potentially be the vice president of the United States, ... It was amazing to watch,” Card said. “It's definitely been inspiring to me.”
While Alpha Kappa Alpha does not endorse candidates, they have a long history of social activism and fighting for voting rights as the oldest Black sorority in the United States.
“There has always been a very strong connection with Alpha Kappa Alpha and voting rights,” Card said. “It's an amazing feeling to get that national recognition not that it's necessary but it's great for it to be highlighted.”
Matthew Burke, an AU alumnus and current graduate student in the School of International Service, was a volunteer with Harris’ campaign from January 2019 until she ended it this past December.
Burke said he was motivated to volunteer on her presidential campaign after seeing her in hearings during his internship at the U.S Department of State.
“I was primarily interested in seeing her in hearings and holding her own and inserting accountability in a government environment like that,” Burke said. “It was motivating to see her as the future of the Democratic party.”
Burke said that he is excited about the prospect of more diversity in the White House as a whole, citing not only Harris’ identity, but the identities of those she has surrounded herself with.
“The cabinet positions that are going to be filled, I would suspect, are going to include voices that haven't been represented before,” said Burke.
Kevin Tang, an AU alumnus who graduated from SIS and the College of Arts and Sciences in 2019, interned with Harris as a sophomore at AU. He was part of her inaugural intern class in 2017.
“During my entire time at AU that was the one internship that really stood out,” Tang said.
Tang said that he was disappointed when Harris dropped out of the presidential race; however, he said that her nomination as vice president changed the Biden campaign for him.
“I was a little more excited for a Biden presidency once I knew Kamala was going to be on the ticket,” Tang said. “I would rather see someone like Kamala at the head of the ticket, but I think it's very important that we have someone who is not white, who is a woman running for higher office.”