Kamala's Collective

Fireworks Over the White House

The Collective Power of the Divine Nine

SF Alpha Chapter on Inauguration DayThe connections that Vice President Kamala Harris forged during her Howard days through her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., and the Divine Nine—the nine historically Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council may have given her an edge on the campaign trail.

“The role of the Divine Nine was huge,” says senior Nira Headen, a member of Alpha Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. “A lot of first-time voters were encouraged by their collegiate peers who were in the Divine Nine to vote.”

Indeed, the Divine Nine spearheaded initiatives to encourage voting in the Black community among all ages. These included, but were not limited to, a virtual town hall on getting around voter suppression efforts, a partnership with NAACP to encourage Black voters to turn out to the polls, and another with Oprah for the Own Your Vote campaign to inspire Black women to embrace their political power.

Those who did turn out to the polls likely helped to propel Harris to the vice presidency, as nine out of 10 Black voters supported President Joe Biden and Harris, according to a nationwide survey of voters by the Associated Press.

Senior Rachel Howell, Howard University Student Association president and AKA member, points out that the drive to get out the vote showed the unity of the Divine Nine.

“Ultimately, our goal is to promote service and to give back to our community. And so, this was the perfect opportunity for us all to come together to really do that—to really embody what all of our founders would want us to do.”

When We Gather

When We Gather: A Labor of Love with Howard Roots

Vice President Kamala Harris’ success didn’t come in a vacuum. Rather, it came on the backs of those who went before her. That was the premise of the short film, “When We Gather,” which celebrates the women whose accomplishments made Harris’ ascendancy to the vice presidency possible.

For Jennifer Thomas (B.A. ’88), associate professor in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film, the project –inspired by and in honor of Kamala Harris – had a special meaning. Like Harris, Thomas was initiated in Alpha Kap- pa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Alpha Chapter. Thomas heard about the project through another alumna from Alpha Chapter, Devry Ross (B.S.E.E. ’90).

“When I learned about it, the hair on my arms stood up, and I just had this feeling that this was a project I really want to be involved in,” Thomas says. She ultimately served as the supervising producer for the project, where in part she oversaw the production and later publicity for the film.

The film is narrated by actress Alfre Woodard and features the creative genius of artists such as María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Okwui Okpokwasili and LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs. Through dance and spoken word, the artists conjure up a message of healing, unity and creativity, as well as an appreciation for the role women have played leading up to this historic moment. The film opened January 27 – a week after Inauguration Day – and will tour museums and other art spaces in the coming months.

Thomas wasn’t the only Bison – or sorority alumnae – to be part of the project. Codie Elaine Oliver (B.A. ’05) served as the director, Crys- tal Whaley (B.A. ’91) was a consulting producer and Bernie M. Lawrence (B.A. ’90) was a production attorney for the film.

“I’m very proud that we have so many Howard alumni who were involved in this project behind the scenes,” Thomas said. “We have an expectation of excellence at Howard, and I think it was reflected in the final project. I hope we made Vice President Harris very proud.”

Kamala Harris at the Pentagon Podium

Howard in the (White) House

Bison presence in the new administration doesn’t stop at Kamala Harris.

Howard’s own are serving in a number of capacities, both in the Biden-Harris administration and on the transition team.

Rykia Dorsey Craig
White House Regional Communications Director

Danielle Conley (J.D. ’03)
Deputy Counsel to the POTUS

Meaghan Lynch (J.D. ’14)
Press Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Donametria “Tria” Stallings (M.A ’18)
Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education

Carlton Waterhouse, Ph.D. (J.D. ’91)
Deputy Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office for Land and Emergency Management

Howard Alumni on the Biden-Harris Transition Team

Danielle Conley (J.D. ’03)

Shirlethia Franklin (J.D. ’07)

Donna Harris-Aikens (J.D. ’94)

Teresa Mason (J.D. ’82)

Paul Monteiro (J.D. ’07)

Patrice Simms (J.D. ’98)

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