Kamala Harris became the first female vice president in United States history when she was sworn in on Jan. 20.
She became the first African American female vice president, and she also became the first woman of South Asian decent to take the oath of office.
There’s also one more notable accomplishment in there.
She’s the first member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority to become vice president.
That’s something that has become extra special for her sorority sisters nationwide and right here in Sunflower County.
Harris joined the sorority at Howard University in the late 1980s, but there’s an undeniable bond between all of the sisters in this sorority, no matter where they are in the United States.
“A lady of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. possesses poise, intellect, resilience and a passion to serve,” said Shamethria Beamon, curriculum specialist at the Sunflower County Consolidated School District. “These are the qualities that I see in Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. Regardless of the many obstacles, she remained steadfast and true to doing the work in order for America to have a voice.”
Beamon’s first encounter with an AKA took place during her younger years.
“I watched the class, sophistication and leadership of one of my former elementary music teachers, Mrs. Doris Richardson,” Beamon said. “I knew then if I ever joined a sorority, that it would be Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. These same character traits were possessed by my sorority sisters on the campus of Alcorn State University.”
Beamon pledged to the sorority in 2000 at Alcorn.
Verna Ransom, who works at the B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, said she has been a member of the sorority since joining on the campus of Delta State in 1979.
She was thrilled when she heard that Harris was an AKA.
“AKA was the first Black sorority, so now to have the first AKA in the White House, is thrilling beyond words,” Ransom said. “I can’t even express how I feel about that, to have that stamp that we’re the first to go into the White House. We’re very grateful and thankful for the opportunity and for us to be the first one to do that, it’s just beyond words.”
Ransom has two daughters and one is already a pledged AKA. She is hoping both daughters will eventually be sorority sisters and that they will be inspired by Harris’ accomplishments.
“I never thought I would ever be able to see it in my lifetime,” Ransom said of Harris becoming the first female vice president. “For them to see that and witness that, that’s great.”
Sunflower Mayor Desiree Norwood is also an AKA, joining the sorority in the fall of 2015.
For her, joining the AKA sisterhood was about service and giving back to her community, something she had seen her friend Freddie White Johnson do over the years.
“She was actually one of those amazing women who was actually a trailblazer in her community,” Norwood said of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation director. “I would see her behind the scenes, helping families during the holidays or helping families when individuals were diagnosed with cancer…She was one of many individuals who influenced me to say, ‘Hey, if this is what this organization actually stands for, then I definitely want to be a part.’”
Norwood said she was always attracted to the service aspects of the organization.
“I am definitely one who uses the motto, ‘Service over self,’ and I would definitely watch a lot of women who were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority who actually lived up to servicing their communities,” she said.
Norwood said she sees many of the Alpha Kappa Alpha qualities in Harris.
“It actually exemplifies and shows that she wants to be a model for other women, not only women of color, not only women of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, but for all women,” she said.
Thanks to AKA, these women, and many like them, have a direct bond with the new vice president.
“My heart was filled with many emotions,” Beamon said of watching Harris take the oath of office. “That momentous occasion proved to young girls, regardless of color, that you can definitely overcome the odds and reach your goals. It was a scary, yet exhilarating feeling. Scary because of how cruel this world is and exhilarating because of the joy it brought.