GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — One of the things Monica Sparks made sure to wear on Wednesday was her pearl necklace.
It was Inauguration Day, and Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice President. Wearing pearls, she said, was in honor of Harris becoming the first woman to hold that position.
She said women around the world were doing the same.
“I had many women today, people that I know that are Republicans that were just in a celebratory mood because they finally realized, ‘Oh my God, there’s a woman going into the White House,’” Sparks said as she laughed during a Zoom interview with FOX 17 on Wednesday. “We’re going to get a lot done now.”
Sparks is the chair of the Kent County Black Caucus. She said Harris making history wasn’t about party affiliation. It’s a milestone that all women can applaud.
“I believed when I was a little girl that I would see this is in my lifetime,” Sparks said. “I know that there’s something called the glass ceiling, but baby we’re shattering that today.”
Sparks said this is a momentous time for the Black community as well. For months last year, Sparks along with other members of the Caucus and hundreds of volunteers logged over 500 hours educating people about voting and registering them to vote. Today she considers to be the fruit of their labor, and it’s been a long time coming.
“We fast forward from Shirley Chisholm in 1972 to now Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States of America, as a Black woman that makes me so proud,” Sparks said with tears in her eyes. “I can’t stop smiling.”
Sparks said this is not only big for the Black community but for all people of color. While Harris’s father was Jamaican, her mother was born in India, thus making her the first South Asian and biracial American to hold a high office in the White House.
“This is the progress that we’ve been looking for, that we’ve been longing for for so long. This moment is precious,” Sparks said, overcome with emotion. “I hope we don’t taint it. I hope that we learn from it and that we can grow together. God knows that we need to be stronger.”
Sparks hopes this moment leads everyone to unity, especially after the events of Jan. 6 when a mob illegally entered the nation’s Capitol, forcing congresspeople to evacuate their chamber and hide in an undisclosed location.
She said now it’s time to recoup as a country and move forward.
“We have to [heal],” Sparks said. “But, we have to want to do it together, and with a woman in the White House, I guarantee some healing is going to take place.”