Madam President Kamala Harris incorporated personal lessons within her build to leadership, which included the strength of sisterhood. As part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. body of sisters, Harris embraced the level of kinship taught within her sorority home; it would later serve as a pillar in leading the country.
In honor of those lessons, the vice president invited the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a central hub of Black sororities and fraternities, to her ceremonial EEOB office on Wednesday, October 6. Part of the moment included the reunion of her collegiate family, the Devine 9.
Welcoming the presence of unity, Harris stated, “Well, it’s my great honor to welcome—to officially welcome at my invitation, my Divine 9 family and these great national and international leaders.”
Madam President Harris continued, “We have so much to discuss and I’m looking forward to that conversation. But this invitation has been made, was made, even before our arrival at the White House, understanding the historic, the current, and the future roles that members of each of these Divine 9 organizations play in every sector of our society, and in every way both historically, currently and in the future.”
The lens of loyalty is developed under one congregation, Harris made note of the strength found in numbers seen throughout history, which has been a key force in influencing change.
Those invited to the vice presidents’ ceremonial office, included Valerie Hollingsworth Baker, International president Zeta Phi Beta, Dr. Glenda Glover, International president, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Rasheeda S. Liberty, vice-chair of Council of Presidents and International Grand Basileus, Sigma Gamma Rho, Dr. Willis Lonzer III, General president, Alpha Phi Alpha, and several other influential leaders in the sorority/fraternity world.
The conversation revealed diverse topics; one subject called for intense focus. The passion surrounding voting rights within the Black community was brought to Vice President Harris’ attention. In solidarity with the proposed initiative set by U.S. President Joe Biden, Harris reared her answer to reflect the Building Back Better; an operation that is shared between the Head of State, the following administration, and herself.
“For the President and for me, it is very important that we collaborate, knowing that we face so many challenges, every country, knowing that we are entering in many ways a new era when those challenges are taking on race, but also in the midst of those challenges we see opportunities …”
Harris continued, “And so I’ve asked these Divine 9 leaders to come in to share with me about the work that we are doing, and the work continues to do, to uplift and to reach out to all the people in our nation– to understand and to both engage and to acknowledge and to improve. So, I thank you all, and those who do not know, it is leaders, historically and currently, the Divine 9 who have been national leaders on issues like voting rights.”
Vice President Harris reflected on the power of sisterhood, and its influence within capitol hill throughout history. She said, “You know I’ve been reminded of recently of a photograph in black and white — I believe it was with President Truman — but a group of Black sororities who met in the White House talked about the need to protect voting rights for women of America.”
Harris continued, “The leaders of the fraternities of the Divine 9 who had a vision for what the Civil Rights movement should be, and then led that movement. I think about the leaders of the industry, the leaders of our sector, the leaders of innovation, and all of them are represented.”
In light of understanding the role fraternities and sororities play in shaping the nation’s destiny, Harris stated, “As we move forward, we are also, as an administration, working to build back better. We’ve had some legislation that we are proposing and working on that would invest in a number of sectors of society, that will produce great growth. One of them is our HBCU’s.”
Vice President Harris addressed the power in the room; she held space for great minds to connect and focus on the concerns of the collective community. “Of course, we have great presidents at each of the Divine 9 organizations at our HBCU’s, as well as many other academic institutions–and so, we’re going to talk a bit about that and what we can do to work together to support our agencies, students and graduates. There is a challenge right now in our nation, as we know, from those who would attack voting rights. “Harris Said.
As a person who once walked the halls covered in the pride of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Harris shared her experience and lessons she learned as a sorority sister with the nation. The level of camaraderie and shared concern found within Devine molded the Vice President of the United States. Harris honored that well-taught lesson on Wednesday, October 6, and sat with leaders of unity.
Reminding the room that answers to current pressing matters are often seen throughout history, Harris reflected on words from American author, activist, and wife to Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King.
“As the great Corretta Scott King reminded us, the fight for civil rights must be fought by each and every generation,” Harris continued, “It begins with those Divine 9 leaders, who have been the leaders in that fight and that that struggle. We know that will be front and center for us.”
Madam President Harris stated, “I’m looking forward to the conversation that we will have about our continuing role to organize and help folks fight for their Constitutional rights– in short, what we can do together is to push for the advancement and passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”