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Kamala Harris To Be Sworn In As US Vice President By Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Washington: Kamala Harris, who will script history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian US vice president on Wednesday, will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice in the US Supreme Court.

The 58-year-old vice president-elect was inspired by Justice Sotomayor’s background, ABC News reported, ahead of the presidential inauguration event on January 20.

They have both previously served as former prosecutors — Harris in California, Sotomayor in New York. Sotomayor, 66, is third female justice in US Supreme Court history.

During her victory speech Harris weaved in an adage from her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who often told her she would be the first to do many things, but urged her to open doors for others.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” said Harris in November.

For the historic day, Harris has chosen to be sworn in using two Bibles. One previously belonged to Regina Shelton, who was like a second mother to Harris and her sister Maya.

Harris and Maya often visited Shelton’s house after school while their mother was still at work as a breast cancer researcher.

Shelton lived two doors down from Harris’ home. Harris used Shelton’s Bible to take the oath of office to be attorney general of California and later to become a United States senator, CNN reported.

The second Bible that Harris will take her oath of office belongs to Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court, her aide said.

Harris has often said that Marshall was one of the inspirations for her legal career and has described him as a “childhood hero of mine.”

The vice president-elect said in a video posted to Twitter in July, “Thurgood Marshall and the work that he did is … really one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer. Thurgood was a fighter, he was a boxer in the courtroom.”

Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964. Her mother, Shyamala, who immigrated to the US from Chennai, died of cancer in 2009. Harris’ father, Donald, is a Jamaican American professor of economics.

President-elect Joe Biden and Harris will take their oaths of office on the West Front of the US Capitol during a significantly scaled-down event on January 20.

Authorities are bracing for more violence ahead of the inauguration after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed and breached the US Capitol on January 6 in an unprecedented riot that left five people, including a police officer, dead. The National Park Service has announced that the National Mall will be closed to the general public on Inauguration Day due to security concerns.

Asked about the safety concerns taking the oath outside, Harris told NPR in an interview: “I think we cannot yield to those who would try and make us afraid of who we are.”

Auspicious Kolam Drawings Mark Kickoff Of Biden-Harris Inauguration Ceremony

Kolam, a traditional Indian art form of drawing geometric patterns on the floors as a sign of welcome, was part of the virtual kick-off ceremony of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris, who traces her origin to Tamil Nadu where these auspicious designs adorn almost every household.

In Tamil Nadu, where Harris has roots, women draw Kolams on the ground to invite health and prosperity into houses where they are displayed.

Pictures of thousands of Kolam tiles were on Saturday woven into a video to welcome Biden and Harris in the spirit of Presidency for All’ and to showcase the multi-cultural heritage of America.

More than 1,800 individuals from across the US and many from India participated in the online initiative to create thousands of Kolam designs to celebrate the historic event.

Many believe Kolams symbolise positive energy and new beginnings. People of all ages from various communities collaborated from their homes to create tiles with eco-friendly materials. What started out as a local project spread way beyond our expectations, said Shanthi Chandrasekar, an award-winning multimedia and multidisciplinary artist from Maryland who took the initiative along with several others.

The initial idea was to have these Kolam patterns from across the country in front of the White House as a symbol of good beginning to the new administration.

The Washington DC police gave permission to the organisers to have it near the Capitol Hill around the inauguration venue. However, due to the unprecedented security measures that have been enforced in Washington DC, the permission was cancelled.

Pictures of thousands of Kolam tiles were on Saturday woven into a video to welcome Biden and Harris in the spirit of Presidency for All’ and to showcase the multi-cultural heritage of America.

A date for the installation after the inauguration will be set up after a go-ahead from the local security, said Sowmya Somnath who is part of the Inauguration Kolam 2021 organising team in her volunteer capacity.

Washington DC Public Schools arts director Mary Lambert and visual arts manager Lindsey Vance joined Chandrasekar to combine thousands of Kolam drawings made by people from many different backgrounds to welcome Biden when he takes office in a few days.

Hundreds of artists, citizens and students from across the country collaborated online to combine thousands of local pieces.

This is what we wanted when we planned to have thousands of Kolam tiles in front of the White House, said Somnath.

Students from 10 public schools in Washington DC participated in making the art.

Lambert said the District of Columbia Public School arts curriculum focuses on equity and believes cultural representation is an important part of that effort.

This project provided an opportunity for our students to learn about another culture and the math skills needed for creation in the arts. As well, an opportunity to express their identity through visual arts and to see that united with others from around the country, said Lambert.

Major Democratic fund raiser Shekar Narasimhan, whose niece and grandniece joined many others to make tiles for the inauguration Kolam, supported the project.

Narasimhan said the project reflects and honours the history of America.

With the rise of diverse America, the energy behind this artwork is a reminder of what binds us together as Americans, he said.

I am so grateful and honoured to be able to share my love for Kolams through the #2021kolam community project. The real celebrities are the children who have invested so much of themselves into beautifying the dots and the shapes around them that will come together for our collaborative welcome offering for Inauguration Kolam #2021, Chandrasekar said.

The response has been way beyond our expectations. We have people send in their tiles from all the way from California, Boston, New Jersey and many places. From day cares to people in their 90s have participated in this. The response has been amazing, she added.

Biden and Harris will take the oath of office on January 20.

(PTI)

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