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Kamala Harris makes history

November 9, 2020, 1:37 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! There’s a new highest-ranking female CEO in the Fortune 500, Pfizer makes progress on a COVID-19 vaccine, and the United States elects its first female Vice President. Have a historic Monday.

– History in the making. What a weekend, right?

I’m writing to you from New York City, where voters took to the streets on Saturday to celebrate Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election—and, of course, history being made. Kamala Harris, the California senator, is now Vice President-elect of the United States, the first woman, first Black woman, and first Indian-American woman to ever serve in the nation’s second-highest office.

Regardless of your politics, it’s a historic moment for the United States, and one that has been a long time coming—whether you’re counting the country’s 244-year history or the interminable week of waiting for election results.

Harris’s ascension to the White House is especially meaningful to women of color—and, specifically, to Black women, the voters who, yet again, proved so crucial in getting her there; 91% of Black women voters chose the Biden-Harris ticket.

I spent much of Sunday talking to Black female voters (some of whom you may have seen in the Broadsheet before) about what the past few days have been like for them. Jotaka Eaddy, the founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, told me that the moment she saw Harris take the stage in her white suit for her acceptance speech in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday night was one of “pure joy.” Others, like Washington, D.C. resident Ashley Hicks (who is an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister alongside the incoming VP), are concerned that the outpouring of praise for Black women who “put democracy on our backs” will fade the next time they’re seeking justice.

But these two stories—the importance of Black women to the Democratic Party and the historic nature of Harris’s win—intersect. “This showed the collective power Black women have to help each other rise,” Minda Harts, the author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table, told me yesterday. “When we collaborate, we can change history.”

Watching Harris take the stage as the nation’s Vice President-elect on Saturday, Eaddy says she reflected on the history that brought us to this moment:

“I thought about the rich legacy of Black women that made this moment possible that are no longer with us. I thought about the Black women of Delta Sigma Theta who marched for suffrage in 1913. I thought about Fannie Lou Hamer. I thought about Shirley Chisholm, and how she was mistreated. I thought about all the Black women that have been organizing together—you just are grateful to be able to witness such a moment in your lifetime. … You have those moments, and then you know there’s work to do.”

You can read my full story here. And for more on the women who paved the way for Harris’s historic victory, from the suffragists who ran for office before they could vote to Chisholm and her bold 1972 presidential run to Hillary Clinton, read this piece.

One thing’s for certain: we at the Broadsheet are looking forward to following what our first Madam Vice President does next.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Power moves. Now that you might be able to digest some more news outside of politics, take note of this new CEO appointment: Karen Lynch, the former CEO of Aetna, will step into the chief executive role at CVS Health, which acquired Aetna in 2018. Lynch will be the highest-ranking female CEO in the Fortune 500, a distinction that previously belonged to GM CEO Mary Barra. Fortune

- Progress at Pfizer. On Monday morning, some good news: Pfizer has announced that the COVID-19 vaccine the pharma giant has in trials is "90% effective in preventing the disease." "This is a historical moment,” says Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer SVP and head of vaccine research and development. New York Times

- White House counsel. While President Trump has not yet conceded to President-elect Joe Biden, First Lady Melania Trump has reportedly advised her husband to accept his loss in the presidential election. CNN

- Interesting interview. This wide-ranging Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez interview has been widely shared over the past few days. AOC offers her perspective on the future of the Democratic Party, from the progressive/moderate divide to how campaigns run their digital operations. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: WME hired former TikTok global talent acquisition leader Gisselle Ruiz as head of inclusion. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Influential adviser. Who might guide the Biden administration's economic policy over the next four years? One likely influential adviser is Heather Boushey, CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which aims to tackle inequality through economic growth. Fortune

- The world's watching. World leaders, from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, extended their congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. See those global reactions here: Fortune

- Power couple. One more notable race from last week's elections is the Arizona Senate seat that flipped from GOP Sen. Martha McSally to Democrat Mark Kelly. Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head in 2011 and is now an activist against gun violence. CNN

- Georgia goes blue. Still want to know more about how Stacey Abrams and other activists helped flip Georgia? Read about Abrams's longstanding strategy in the state, the legacy of her 2018 race for governor, and the role of anti-voter suppression work in increasing Black turnout: Fortune

ON MY RADAR

Nithya Raman unseats L.A. city councilman David Ryu Los Angeles Times

Why I love women who wallop New York Times

Johnny Depp forced to exit Fantastic Beasts franchise Variety

PARTING WORDS

"I can't explain how fundamentally life-changing this is for every little Black and brown girl in this country."

-Valyncia Saunders, an attorney and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister, about Kamala Harris