Howard University honors Vice President Kamala Harris with 49 bell tolls and ‘Black national anthem’

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesHoward University alumna Kamala Harris was officially introduced as the 49th Vice President of the United States on Wednesday morning at her alma mater in Washington, D.C., as the school bell rang 49 times to honor the historic moment.

Harris is the first woman Vice President and the first person of Black and South Asian descent to hold this office after she was sworn in on Inauguration Day by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.She was  escorted to the inauguration ceremony by the university’s renowned marching band, the Showtime Marching Band.

“Throughout her career, the Vice president-elect has carried her Howard education with her, ensuring that she adhere to truth and service and inspiring her to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement released ahead of the ceremony. “It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third of the band participated in the event. After the bells, the University clock tower played, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has become known as the “Black national anthem.”

In the early 1980’s, former U.S. senator and California attorney general Harris attended Howard University, often referred to as the “mecca” of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), due to its vital role in the educational advancement of Black Americans throughout history.

While there, Harris earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and economics and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., which is part of the National Pan Hellenic Council (NPHC) also called the “Divine Nine” — a group of 9 Black sororities and fraternities, five of which were founded at Howard.

By Deena Zaru
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