Rep. Barbara Lee Wears Shirley Chisholm's Pearls To Honor Historic Inauguration Day

Lee reflected on the first Black congresswoman's legacy just hours before Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in to office.

Rep. Barbara Lee celebrated Wednesday’s historic Inauguration Day by wearing a pearl necklace that once belonged to the trailblazing congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

Lee posted a photo on Twitter ahead of the ceremony that showed her donning the pearl necklace and a face mask. The California Democrat noted that the pearls were gifted to her by Chisholm’s goddaughter.

“On this historic day, I’m wearing Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s pearls, given to me by her goddaughter, who said that her godmother ‘would not want it any other way,’” Lee wrote.

“Because of Shirley Chisholm, I am,” added the lawmaker, who was recently elected to her 12th term in Congress.

And looking ahead to the swearing-in of Vice President Kamala Harris, she wrote, “Because of Shirley Chisholm, Vice President Harris is.”

Chisholm, who was the first Black woman to serve in Congress, was also the first Black woman in the U.S. to run for a major party’s presidential nomination in 1972.

Lee joined a chorus of people who reflected on Chisholm’s legacy as Harris ― the first woman, first Black American and first Asian American to be elected vice president of the U.S. ― was sworn in on Wednesday.

In 2009, Lee joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus to host a ceremony unveiling a portrait of Chisholm that hangs in the Capitol building. Lee said at the time that Chisholm was the reason she entered politics.

“I know without her and without her mentorship, without her support, and without her tough love, I would not be here today,” Lee said, according to NPR.

On Saturday, Harris paid homage to Chisholm on Twitter, writing that the late congresswoman had created a path for her and “for so many others.”

“Today, I’m thinking about her inspirational words: ‘I am, and always will be a catalyst for change,’” Harris tweeted.

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