‘A PROUD DAY:’ ‘While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last’ — VP-elect Kamala Harris

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES —The election of California Senator Kamala Harris as the nation’s first female, African-American and Asian-American vice president continued to inspire hope, optimism and tears of joy throughout L.A. and the nation this week as millions celebrated the historic nature of this year’s presidential election.

Throngs of festive celebrants spilled onto city streets across America, cheering wildly, blasting their car horns, banging pots and dancing in the aisles after media outlets projected that Joe Biden had captured the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, thereby making Harris the first black woman in U.S. history to be elected vice president.

“How amazing is it that the first woman vice president is in the White House? And she’s also a woman of color,” the singer Ciara said to her 3-year-old daughter in a video she shared on social media. “It’s so powerful. We can do anything we put our minds to, right?”

The jubilation was shared among many in blue state California as elected officials and community activists jumped onto social media to commemorate the iconic victory.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said she was “exceedingly overjoyed” that the Biden-Harris presidential ticket defeated Donald Trump and Mike Pence in last week’s spirited race for the White House.

“My hope for the future is renewed!” Waters exclaimed in a tweet. “Looking forward to working with Biden-Harris team to move our country forward!”

County Supervisor Janice Hahn said Harris’ ascension to higher office was long overdue.

“One hundred years after women won their right to vote, a Black woman has been elected vice president of the United States,” Hahn said. “This is a proud day for our nation.”

In her victory speech Nov. 7, Harris reflected on the unprecedented moment, saluting and thanking the millions of activist women who came before her.

“I’m thinking about … the generations of women — Black women, Asian, white, Latina and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight,” she said. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all — including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”

Harris also said her election should serve as a true inspiration to young people — especially young girls — that in America, anything is possible. “Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she said.

“And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

“Because while I may be the first woman in this office,” she added, “I won’t be the last.”

The end of the Trump presidency also represents hope that programs that the Republican cut during his term, which benefitted South L.A., will be restored.

Trump cut funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and he eliminated grants to community development financial institutions — both of which serve low-income communities. He also decreased funding for the Small Business Administration.

Over the last two years, the city of Los Angeles has seen the rate of homelessness rise a total of 26%. Many of those affected are in South L.A., and a staggering number of the homeless are people of color.

The area has also seen disproportionate job loss and illness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Political activist and community advocate Earl Ofari Hutchinson said South L.A. residents must push the Biden administration to address increased funding and initiatives for affordable housing construction, expansion of funding for public and private industry jobs and police reform measures.

“The Biden administration has already promised to ramp up spending on public service jobs, press for greater funding and support of community policing, and an expansion of public health services and accessibility,” Hutchinson said. “With COVID taking a disproportionate toll on African-Americans and Hispanics, this is especially important.”

“The administration also will be pressed to take action on the exploding issue of homeless and wealth inequality that has skyrocketed in South L.A. None of these initiatives could or would have happened with Trump.”

Harris’ election means that Gov. Gavin Newsom will need to appoint a replacement for her Senate seat. He said Nov. 9 that he is not rushing into a decision.

“No timeline has been established,” he said. “The process is just beginning to unfold.”

Newsom said he is weighing both the candidates and the timing of the appointment in making a decision.

“I’m working through the cattle call of considerations … related to what’s the profile, and what is the right choice to replace Sen. Harris and when,” he said. “Who is perhaps the more challenging part of that, but I want to make sure it’s inclusive and make sure we’re considering people’s points of view. We are in the middle of that as we speak.”

Hahn said the new President will have a lot to deal with in taking the job.

“Now the real work begins,” she said. “The Biden-Harris Administration and the new Congress have their work cut out for them, addressing the ongoing pandemic and the economic fallout it has created, earning back the confidence of our allies, and repairing our wounded institutions.”

The Biden-Harris ticket swept past the magic 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency on Nov. 7, four days after Election Day, when Associated Press and Fox News declared that Biden had defeated Trump in Pennsylvania.

An anti-Trump protest in downtown Los Angeles quickly turned into a Biden victory celebration, with hundreds of revelers lining the streets and dancing to music while cars bearing American flags drove through streets honking their horns.

Similar celebrations took place in Silve Lake, West Hollywood and Venice.

“Biden’s victory strengthens our resolve to uphold the will of the people and stop Trump’s threat to delegitimize the votes of Black and brown people. Justice is on our side,” Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the Los Angeles teachers union, told the cheering downtown crowd. “You showed us what democracy looks like when we come together with a single mission of voting Trump out of office.

“Trump has stated he will not concede the presidency. At what point do we stand up and fight for what is right? And I would say right now. Right now y’all! We intend to defend democracy and demand Trump concede.”

Biden issued a statement later in the day declaring victory.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris,” he said. “In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America.

“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

Biden and Harris later addressed the nation during a victory celebration from Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Harris acknowledged the moment, tweeting: “This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

Contributing Writer Sue Favor contributed to this article.