Local community leaders react to the historic inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — On Wednesday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris swore into office with Vice President Harris has made history to become the first female U.S. Vice President and the first Black and South Asian American.

“The time is now to see the value in women and the possibilities they can bring,” said Georgia Verdier, President of the NAACP Elmira/Corning Chapter. “Not just to have a female or any female, but a qualified female. I am excited about that, because I’m all about that too. You don’t just put a person in position just to say we have diversity here.”

Verdier said we are all in one boat together and leadership should be a reflection of our country.

“I believe leadership should reflect who they serve,” Verdier said. “I would like to see what a female brings to the table. She’s the first. We’ve seen men in motion for all of these years, and we’ve seen females in motion too but in lesser responsible positions or high positions. I think it is the right time to have that combination, we need to see what we can achieve under that type of leadership.”

She also said women have a responsibility of support each other and Americans have a responsibility of supporting our leaders.

“We need to put all of our support behind her and behind the president,” Verdier said. “It’s not just about them, it’s about all of us. They can lead them but we need to support them and if you don’t have support as a leader, you’re just walking alone. We women have an obligation to support one another. Sometimes we women talk a lot but we don’t do a lot in terms of supporting each other.”

The Vice President of Community and Donor Relations for the Elmira Economic Opportunity Program, Anita Lewis, said the Biden-Harris combination represents what America is.

“This opens the door for many women,” Lewis said. “Males, females, all types of diversity, and it’s like ‘why not? Why not have a female vice president?’ Whether she’s Asian, White, or African American, why not?”

Lewis said women in general can do whatever they want to do. Verdier said Vice President Harris being the first, sends messages to minorities all over the country.

“Many young people want to feel they can achieve the highest objectives,” Verdier said. “They can see people in higher leadership roles that represents them, they say ‘if she made it, I can make it,’ or ‘if he made it, I can make it.'”

Lewis told 18 News, VP Harris shows minorities the results of working hard and staying strong.

You stand strong. Do what you need to do. You can do anything you want to do, if you can’t move through it, move around it. I want people to understand, being a minority; if you don’t get it the first time, you keep trying. It is never too late.”

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