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Kamala Harris and Amanda Gorman are Giving Older African American Generations Hope For the Future

By SHSJC Student Imani Moore, written for JAC 310, Prof. Lynn Waltz

For 71-year-old Doreen Hunter of Philadelphia, Wednesday’s inauguration and ceremony featuring Vice President Kamala Harris, poet Amanda Gorman, and former President Obama represented the best of what Black excellence has to offer.

“I was proud seeing the first African American woman be sworn in as vice president as the first African American president watched,” said Hunter, doing a little dance in her seat as Kamala Harris was sworn in.

After experiencing racism, discrimination, and segregation in her youth, seeing African Americans serve as president and vice president did not seem possible in her lifetime.

“Black people have always been envied,” Hunter said. “It’s sad, but true. That’s why it makes me proud to experience these things: seeing Kamala get sworn in and a young African American woman give the Inaugural poem. I am overjoyed. We are the future.”

Gorman’s Inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, filled Hunter with hope and was especially meaningful because of her three grandchildren whom she believes will live in a changed world she may never see. She clapped when Gorman finished with the words, “If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

“Young people give me hope for the future,” Hunter said. “It was just great to see a young, black woman.”

After seeing Barack and Michelle Obama enter, Hunter says she began shouting. It reminded her of the day she found out America had elected its first African American president and first lady, something she thought she would never see. She also enjoyed the presidential interaction between Obamas, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

To be a part of African-American history is a dream come true for many people, but particularly for history enthusiast like Hunter. She takes pride in learning about black historical figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. They paved the way for people like Harris and Gorman, helping them to reach unthinkable achievements.

“I love teaching my grandchildren the history of our people, no matter how old they get,” Hunter said. “It is important for our young people to know their history. Our ancestors fought so hard for them to live the life that they have today and many of them take that for granted.”

The day brought her hope for 2021 and many years to come. It showed her that unity and love can conquer all, which is her lifelong desire.

Now, she can say she saw it.

Note: Due to pandemic conditions students were given permission to interview family members.