Women and girls across the country wore pearls yesterday to honor Kamala Harris becoming the first woman vice president and the first woman of color to hold national office in the United States. Many also paired them with Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, sneakers Harris has made her fashion calling card. She’s worn them in public multiple times, on the campaign trail, and, most recently, on the cover of the current issue of Vogue.
The Chucks suggest a certain approachability and Gen X’er sensibility that Harris, as a politician, is understandably eager to invoke. They were her go-to shows on the campaign trail last summer, and the Vogue cover cemented them as a personal trademark for Harris despite the controversy surrounding it.
The pearls go deeper. They symbolize longevity and knowledge, sure, but they’re also a symbol of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first historically African American Greek sorority that Harris joined when she attended Howard University, a historically black university, as an undergraduate. Pearls became a symbol of the sorority in 1921, and its founders are known as the Twenty Pearls to members, each of whom receives a badge with 20 pearls when they join the sorority.
Harris wore pearls when she graduated from Howard in 1986, and she’s worn them at major public appearances ever since.
History has been made! Congratulations to Howard Alum Kamala Harris on her election as the first Black and first woman elected Vice President. Congrats also go to Joe Biden on his election as President pic.twitter.com/MPWvQackIB
— Moorland-Spingarn (@MoorlandHU) November 7, 2020
For the inaugural, Harris wore a custom-designed pearl necklace created by Wilfredo Rosado. It is a “strong and modern” 18-carat gold link necklace set with Australian South Sea pearls and diamonds inspired by the chains worn by hip-hop artists.
While there were some solo selfies, many women took the opportunity to post pictures with their daughters also wearing pearls and chucks.
— Tanika Davis (@tanika_davis) January 20, 2021
— Nadia E. Brown (@BrownPhDGirl) January 20, 2021
— tdache83 (@tdache83) January 20, 2021
— Mrs. Johnson (@BookMissMoe) January 20, 2021
What this trend makes clear is that being elected was enough for Harris to inspire many women and girls, particularly of color. The real test is in keeping and growing that enthusiasm now that she’s officially in office.