Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia has followed Kamala Harris’ political ascent as the now California senator repeatedly made history, from her time as San Francisco’s district attorney to her nomination as vice president.
An attorney based in San Francisco, Fortier Nwadibia, 57, said she is “thrilled” to see Harris reach yet another milestone in her career, as the first Black woman, first Indian American and first Asian American to be on a major party presidential ticket.
“It’s just the magnitude of what she brings to the ticket,” said Fortier Nwadibia, who is Black.
Harris became the first Black person and the first woman to serve as district attorney of San Francisco in 2004. She achieved another set of firsts in 2011, becoming the first Black person, first Asian American and first woman to serve as California attorney general.
Harris is the daughter of a Tamil Indian mother and a Jamaican father who both immigrated to the U.S.
But for Tammy Van, 24, and Kahmali Rose, 33, of Massachusetts, Harris’ race does not factor into their assessment of her vice presidential candidacy. They find her record as a prosecutor and attorney general to be harmful for communities of color.
“It just seemed like, of course that’s who [Biden] would select; someone who checked off the identity boxes but still supports the same sort of ideology that she holds,” said Rose, who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential primary, and, like Harris, he is half Jamaican.
When Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August, it was amid political and cultural battles over race and racism, identity and representation. Harris’ racial identity quickly became a major part of the conversation around her candidacy. For many women, Biden’s choice of Harris felt like recognition. For many Black women, it was seen