While millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of a new administration Wednesday, those with ties to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) saw a glass ceiling shattered as one of their own alumni was sworn into the second-highest office in the nation.
Vice President Kamala Harris made history when she became the first female, first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to be sworn in — and as a graduate of Howard University, the first alumnus of an HBCU to take the office.
"What she is showing is that HBCUs have produced the top-level executives, the top quality," Tennessee State University President Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover said Thursday on CBSN. "So no one can ever ask that question again, about 'Are HBCUs relevant,' because she has shown that HBCUs are relevant."
Glover also said HBCUs need more resources.
"HBCUs need research centers. They need to be STEM magnets. They need infrastructure, we need funds relating to endowment," Glover said.
In addition to leading an HBCU, Glover is international president and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, a historically African-American women's group that counts the new vice president as one of its sisters.
"I think that engagement, that civic engagement, the leadership qualities that we instill in young ladies — the first obligation is always to your educational pursuit while you're in college, but you must also have this yearning to serve. And I think it was that yearning to serve that has propelled her," she said of Harris.
Glover brushed aside early criticisms of Harris that were made on the campaign trail that she was too ambitious for the role.
"First of all, we were outraged in the Black community when they said that, here is a young lady who has achieved so much and that she would be too ambitious to be on the ticket, because she would be preparing for president from day one," she said. "Well, her job is to be vice president. She knows how to be in a supportive role. She knows that if anything happens, that she will be called on to assist. So, it was just so asinine."
"When I see an ambitious student who is graduating, who has that ambitious part of her persona, I know that I've done my job," Glover said." So I was happy to hear that's someone's ambitious — it's not a bad word, it's a good word to be ambitious."
Glover called Harris' historic swearing-in a "moment of pride, a moment of thanks, a moment of celebration."
"It was just a special day for Black women, a special day for women, a special day for America, for our whole democracy. It was just wonderful," she said.