By Brittney Cooper
When Americans elected Kamala Harris Vice-President, they symbolically completed a 150-year project of recognizing the right of Black people to exercise the full franchise as citizens. In 1870, the 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote. In 1920, the 19th Amendment secured the franchise for women. We commemorated both of these milestones this year, even as scholars acknowledged the ways that African American women were overlooked and, due to extreme racial repression, did not get to vote in significant numbers until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We also marked the battle to expand the franchise under the shadow of a massive voter-suppression campaign undertaken by conservative politicians and the current President. The cautionary tale of Stacey Abrams’ loss in Georgia in 2018 indicated that the only way to overcome all attempts to undermine Black people’s voting power was to vote in overwhelming numbers, and so in order to deliver Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to victory, Black people did just that. As Harris ascends to the No. 2 role in this country, her presence offers us a chance to write a new chapter in our nation’s history, or perhaps simply to complete an old one.