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'That Was One Beautiful Moment': Wichita Women Savor Inauguration Of Kamala Harris

Carla Eckels/KMUW
Carolyn Anderson shows off her pearls, a tribute to Vice President Kamala Harris, who was sworn in last week. Anderson celebrated the inauguration with others in Wichita.

Carolyn Anderson of Wichita said she didn’t move from the television last week when Kamala Harris became the first woman to be sworn in as vice president.

That Harris is a woman of color – her mother is from India; her father from Jamaica – made it even more special for Anderson, a retired nurse.

“It was hard for me to hold back the tears,” Anderson said. “I’m so excited about what’s going on now. I am over 70 years old, and I remember growing up in the United States where you just didn’t see Black women on TV even …

“We’ve come a long way. It’s just so exciting now; younger people can see what they can become.”

Anderson was among many people who celebrated Harris’ historical inauguration by participating in a car parade on Inauguration Day last week.

Like many at the parade, Anderson wore pearls, a fashion statement associated with Harris.

“Everyone is showing their pearls in appreciation to the world for us getting new leadership,” Anderson said.

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Lakshmi Kambampati, left, and Gretchen Eick participated in the car parade last week to show their support of Vice President Kamala Harris. Kambampati says she is excited that Harris comes from Indian heritage, like her. 

Gretchen Eick said she had a similar reaction to Anderson while watching Harris take the oath on two Bibles: one from a family friend and another that belonged to the first Black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.

“I cried all the way through,” Eick said. “My husband cried as well.

“We were so excited and so hopeful.”

Eick also took part in the car parade. She pulled up behind another car with red, white and blue balloons tied on top.

And she wore her pearls.

“I’m just praying that we can come together as a country and get the work done that we so desperately need to do,” she said.

Eick said the United States is far behind the rest of the world in electing women to top leadership positions.

“So many countries, India, for example, years and years ago, and today (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel and in New Zealand and just so many countries …

“And to see a woman get into at least the second position … she will change people’s attitudes toward what women can do. “

Eick said her decision to participate in the parade came after a friend, Laksatimi Kambampati, invited her.

“It is so exciting,” Kambampati said, “because Kamala Harris is from Indian heritage and I am also from the Indian heritage. And it’s such a role model and also so many hopes for the little girls – and also for me, people of my age, just to say that don’t give up.”

Kambampati said obtaining a high political office takes both perseverance and persistence. She said she’s proud of Harris.

“It’s just so many doors have opened and for so many young girls such a bright future,” she said. “They all can aspire.

“Anything is possible.”

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Treva Graham-Smith organized the Kamala Harris parade last week at Wichita's McAdams Park. She says watching Harris become vice president was a life-changing experience.

Treva Graham-Smith said she decided to organize the car parade because she thought it would be a nice way to show support for Harris.

“This is history,” Graham-Smith said. “It lets me see that we went from the back of the bus with Rosa Parks to the White House, and we’re standing for Dr. King’s dream.”

Graham-Smith wore several strands of pearls. She also sported a “2021 Chucks and Pearls” T-shirt, a nod to Harris, who is known for changing up her look by adding a pair of tennis shoes to her pearls.

She said watching Harris become vice president was a life-changing experience.

“That was one beautiful moment,” Graham-Smith said. “I have something to tell my 3-year-old granddaughter and to see Kamala Harris, that’s history.

“That you can do anything in life you want to, so don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t do.”