By LAUREL THRAILKILL and GABRIELA SZYMANOWSKA, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — As Kamala Harris took the oath of vice president on Wednesday, her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. sisters across Mississippi celebrated the historic moment.
AKA South Eastern Director Mitzi Dease Paige said that many members were “tickled pink and green” to see the first woman of color become vice president.
“Alpha Kappa Alpha is used to being groundbreakers and trailblazers, because we were the first African American sorority founded in 1908,” Paige said. “So this is not a surprise to me that a member of our organization would be sworn in as the vice president of the United States.”
Paige said many members wore the sorority’s signature pink and green colors, pearls and Chuck Taylor shoes to support Harris.
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Juanita Sims Doty, a 49-year member of the sorority, said she wore her pearls as she watched the inauguration. For Doty, who lives in Jackson, the historic moment is something she looks forward to sharing with the sixth-grade students she mentors.
“I think I’m going to use that with the children that we serve to say that we see Vice President Harris, we see President Obama,” Doty said. “They were the first, but they certainly won’t be the last.”
Candie Simmons, president of the sorority’s Beta Delta Omega Chapter in Jackson, said the inauguration is a historic day.
“I think that today is a great day because now, we as Black women officially have a seat at the table,” Simmons said. “We made history by having one of our members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. become the vice president of the United States.”
Simmons said she is celebrating at home because of COVID-19.
“But I assure you if COVID were not in the air, you’d see pink and green all over restaurants, in the streets and all types of celebrations going on today,” Simmons said.
Gloria Salters, president of the sorority’s Rho Lambda Omega Chapter, said she participated in a virtual watch party where she said tears and cheers were shared among members.
“I think the emotions were all over the place, but it was because we just had so much pride,” said Salters, whose chapter also is based in Jackson. “So many of the members just said they just never thought that they would ever see this and for us to see this with our very own sorority sister, we were just overjoyed.”
Salters said Harris’ inauguration shines a light on the power of Black women and that anything can be accomplished by women working together.
“Vice President Harris has said it over and over again, she couldn’t have done this by herself,” Salters said.
Wednesday evening, Simmons said a virtual celebration was planned for members with 75 or more years of service who would make special tributes to Harris.
The organization is also flooding social media with a special social media frame they created and photos of themselves wearing pearls and pink.
“We have a saying that says, ‘Got my pearls,’ meaning I have my pearls, replicating our founders and what they stood for,” Simmons said, adding that she has on her pearls in support of Harris.
The significance of today also resonated with younger girls not yet a part of the organization, as Salters said her 9-year-old goddaughter wore her own pearls in honor of the historic moment.
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