Kamala Harris was sworn in as the United States’s first female vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the west front of the Capitol, holding two bibles — one belonging to Thurgood Marshall, the country’s first black chief of the high court.
Sotomayor is the first Latina to sit on the Supreme Court. The second bible, belonging to a longtime family friend, was used during Harris’s swearing-in ceremony as a senator four years ago and as California’s attorney general.
Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, is the first woman and first person of color to be vice president. She wore purple in a nod to Shirley Chisholm, “who ran for president decades ago and inspired her career,” according to CNN. Former first lady Michelle Obama was also dressed in purple.
She was escorted by the Capitol Police officer credited with saving lawmakers’ lives with his quick thinking on Jan. 6 as a pro-Trump mob marauded through the Capitol buildings, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
As vice president, Harris takes on the constitutional role of president of the Senate. Her first acts in that role will come later on Wednesday when she delivers the oath of office to the incoming California senator who will succeed her and to two Georgia Democrats who won runoff elections earlier this month.
At a coronavirus memorial on Tuesday evening, Harris said she hoped the country could begin a new chapter.
“My abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another,” she said.
Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and former Republican President George W. Bush stood in attendance.
Pence left a note for Harris in the West Wing, according to reports.