When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the oath of office at Wednesday’s inauguration, the magnitude of her historic election will be marked not only in her remarks but in the details.
The Vice President-elect will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another historic female first. Sotomayor is the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.
Harris, according to a source with knowledge, told ABC News that the Vice President-elect was inspired by Justice Sotomayor’s background. The pair both previously served as former prosecutors — Harris in California, Sotomayor in New York.
During her victory speech, Harris weaved in an adage from her mother, Shymala Gopalan Harris, who often told her she would be the first to do many things, but urged her to open doors for others.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” said Harris.
For the historic day, Harris has chosen to be sworn in using two bibles. One previously belonged to Mrs. Regina Shelton, who was like a second mother to Harris and her sister Maya. The two sisters affectionately called Shelton’s home “the house” and would visit daily after school. They became incredibly close to Shelton’s daughter and her foster children. Harris has carried the memory of Shelton throughout her life. Harris used Shelton’s bible during her swearing-in for California Attorney General and the United States Senate.
The second bible belonged to the late civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, someone who inspired Harris’ career path.
“Some of my greatest heroes were lawyers: Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, Constance Baker Motley—giants of the civil rights movement. I cared a lot about fairness, and I saw the law as a tool that can help make things fair,” Harris wrote in her memoir, “The Truths We Hold.”
Harris even credited her matriculation at Howard University to Marshall, who also graduated from the historically black university.
“I wanted to get off on the right foot,” wrote Harris. “And what better place to do that, I thought, than at Thurgood Marshall’s alma mater?”
Marshall graduated from the HBCU’s law school in 1933 more than five decades before Harris would first step foot on campus.