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Kamala Harris Sworn In As Vice President

Kamala Harris is sworn as vice president by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on.
Alex Wong
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Getty Images
Kamala Harris is sworn as vice president by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on.

Kamala Harris has been sworn in as vice president of the United States, becoming the first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the office. She is also the first graduate of a historically Black college and the first member of a Black sorority to do so.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath. Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court, previously administered the vice presidential oath to Biden in 2013.

Harris used two Bibles in the ceremony. The first belonged to Regina Shelton, a family friend whom Harris viewed as a surrogate mother. Harris has used this Bible before, when she took the oath of office as both California attorney general and U.S. senator. The second Bible was previously owned by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black member of the Supreme Court and Harris' lifelong political role model.

In a recent interview with NPR's Scott Detrow, Harris reflected on the moment that she would take the oath of office as vice president. "I will be thinking about my mother, who's looking down from heaven. I will be thinking of all the people who are counting on us to lead," she said.

Harris often quotes her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, in speeches. A popular refrain she attributes to her mother: "You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last."

At the start of the ceremony, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said of Harris, "When she takes the oath of office, little girls and boys across the world will know that anything and everything is possible. And in the end, that is America."

The vice president's oath is slightly different than the presidential oath, matching the oath taken by members of Congress:

"I , _________, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.

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