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“She had to have courage”: Waterloo students witness history as Vice President Harris breaks barriers

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- Classrooms were mostly quiet before noon in Waterloo as students witnessed President Joe Biden's inauguration as well as the historic swearing in Vice President Kamala Harris, America's first, Black female to take the nation's second highest office.

"It doesn't matter your color or gender," said Jacqueline Debah, a 5th grader at Irving Elemenatary.

Debah, a young girl of color, hopes Vice President Harris' success will inspire confidence in her classmates.

"I feel like girls can do anything. It makes me confident that I can achieve my goal that I want to achieve," Debah said.

Dressed in pearls and Converse shoes to honor Harris, Sheila Hollingsworth tried to stress the importance of representation for people of color to her first graders. She shared with the them the courage it took for Vice President Harris to achieve what she did.

"She had to have courage for all the barriers that she had faced during her lifespan," Hollingsworth said.

Having few teachers of color growing up, Hollingsworth strives to be a role model to those she teaches.

"I always share my story with them so they know that I didn't just start teaching right away. Showing them that I had to go through steps and I had to work hard to get to this point," Hollingsworth said.

Vice President Harris was sworn in before 11 a.m. Wednesday morning by another pioneer for equality, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.


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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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