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Every Voice Lifted: Reflections of an Anticipated Inauguration

On January 20, 2021 members of the Epsilon Chi chapter of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated, witnessed the flowers and fruits of ancestral hope and labor. Through our respective virtual platforms, we put on our Kamala-inspired Chuck Taylor shoes, wrapped our necks in pearls, and sent energy of love and pride ahead of a newly elected Vice President.

Our hearts were overjoyed as we watched our love and pride meet Kamala Harris at the footsteps of the west front of the Nation's Capitol. As the young poet, Amanda Gorman, gave us hope that the energy of Maya Angelou may very well not be a once in a lifetime experience, we recognized ourselves--our essence, our struggles, our hopes--in between the lines of her poetic articulation of what we were all witnessing. Amanda called out from the podium with courage that comes only from our feet standing firm in the places of ancestral defeat and triumphs---where we met and walked with God. These words came from her-story, passed down, no doubt, from generation to generation. Although we were all tuned in to welcome Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. as the 46th President of the United States,let's be clear: January 20th was a day of collective "amens," selahs and a significantly meaningful, "and it came to pass" for women around our nation.

We have lived and are currently living in weary years within these contemporary United States of America. Battling against the pandemic of COVID-19, and the widespread racism that has unfolded in front of our eyes--weather subtle or blatant-- we have learned to cry silent tears in our pursuit of America's unrealized promise to people of color. Yet, even in these times, our collective voice remained committed--lifted in high hope for a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20th for some, was a day of renewed hope. For many women,no matter what party affiliation however, it was the dawning of a new day-- one that our foremothers worked toward since before the Suffrage March. Vice President Kamala Harris-- a Black woman of Asian descent-- has now fueled the fire for many mothers and fathers raising their daughters to believe anything is possible--especially in a world that more often than not, has dictated what a woman can and cannot do.

When Vice President Kamala Harris raised her right hand to take the oath of office, our experiences connected with hers. She represented every time women had to work harder to achieve equal pay. She represented the movement championing the rights of women. On a national platform, the Vice President walked the road less traveled, taking on the criticisms along with praise from people attempting to discredit her very presence in a male-dominated profession. On inauguration day, Kamala Harris marched to the White House marking time with the steady beat to which the weary feet of our ancestors traveled "over a way that with tears has been watered." In 1929, Lola Mercedes Parker set out to organize and advance the cause of Black business women through Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated. As members of an organization striving to "promote civic and social service activities," for the women of Iota, witnessing the election, and subsequent swearing in of vice president Kamala Harris was more than just a moment in time; it was the culminating breakthrough of a struggle to which Iota Phi Lambda is no stranger. Yet, even now, our voices cannot waiver, for there is still work to be done. For the Epsilon Chi chapter, January 20, 2021 will forever be marked in our hearts as a day where once again, we saw what is possible when we all stand and lift our voices together. God of our weary years God of our silent tears Though who has brought us thus far on the way Though who has by Thy might Led us into the Light Keep us forever in the path, we pray Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee Shadowed beneath Thy hand May we forever stand True to our God True to our native land ~James Weldon Johnson


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