Just as the season for honorary degrees and graduation ceremonies is winding down, Vice President Kamala Harris made history—once again—at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point May 27. Madam Vice President became the first woman to deliver a commencement speech to the United States military school’s graduating class of 2023. The military academy and White House shared an announcement with the public earlier in May, that Harris’ would be a keynote speaker at the ceremony, and that the event is an inaugural mark in the institution’s 221-year history.
“We are honored to have the Vice President as our commencement speaker,” said Lt. Gen. Steven W. Gilland, U.S. Military Academy’s 61st superintendent. “As an accomplished leader who has achieved significant milestones throughout her career, we look forward to her inspiring remarks to our cadets.”
Harris is no stranger to making history. As you already know, the former California state senator became the first Black woman to hold office as the United States Vice President. It was a phenomenal feat ushered in by the 2020 presidential election. As a Black woman who is also of Jamaican and South Asian descent, the impact and importance of diversity is not lost on the nation’s number two in command and she was sure to include diversity and inclusion in her address to the graduating body: “To the class of 2023 and to all the cadets here today. You stand on the broad shoulders of generations of Americans who have worn the uniform, including many barrier breakers and trailblazers,” Madam Vice President stated. “In fact, this year, you celebrate the 75th anniversary of the integration of women in the military, as well as the desegregation of our military.”
“These milestones are a reminder of a fundamental truth: Our military is strongest when it fully reflects the people of America,” she continued.
BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Harris back in 2019 at Women of Power Summit when her name emerged as a potential candidate to be the first female president. The now-Vice President has promoted equity and diversity long before she became one of the most powerful women in the U.S.
Similar to the graduating cadets at West Point, Harris readies herself for the next steps in her life. She gears up to hit the 2024 Presidential campaign trail alongside President Joe Biden.