One by one, Democratic leaders who tried and failed to put a woman in the White House appeared on-screen at the Democratic National Convention last night to crown Kamala Harris as their successor. “I know a thing or two about the slings and arrows coming her way,” said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Kamala can handle them all.” Despite the intense disappointment of 2016, many Democrats firmly believe that having a woman on the ticket is the key to kicking Donald Trump out of office this November. Harris is stepping into her role at a profoundly challenging time for women—which may make women voters grateful to see a candidate who looks like them on the ticket.
When Clinton became the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee four years ago, she tied her victory to Seneca Falls, the 1848 convention at which a group almost exclusively made up of white women declared women’s political rights for the first time in American history. Harris reframed that history as she accepted her nomination for vice president last night, nearly 100 years to the day after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women suffrage.
“So many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification,” Harris said. She ran through a list of Black women who were firsts in their own time, such as Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge and the first to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court, and Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first to run for president. “These women inspired us to pick up the torch and fight on,” she said.