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Why Everyone Wore Purple to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration?

Shirley Chisolm and Kamala Harris edited collage

On Inauguration Day (January 20, 2021), it appeared as if everyone wore purple including Vice President Kamala Harris. The color purple was significant to those that wore it. For Vice President Kamala Harris, purple was a nod to Shirley Chisholm. 

Photo: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gifted with pride from Ellen Brooks

Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected into the United States Congress. She represented New York’s 12th Congressional District, where she introduced legislation that focused on gender, racial equality, and the expansion of the food stamp program. Shirley Chisholm is most known for her 1972 Presidential campaign making her the first Black women to run for President of the United States. Her campaign colors were purple and yellow. Although she did not win the election, she continued a career in politics. 

Related: Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm


Another notable fashion nod to Shirley Chisholm during this inauguration was made by California’s Democrat Representative Barbara Lee. She wore Shirley Chisholm’s pearl necklace during the inauguration. Representative Barbara Lee took to Twitter to write:

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.”

Because of Shirley Chisholm, I am.

Because of Shirley Chisholm, Vice President Harris was.

Her legacy continues to inspire woman today to achieve the milestones she achieved and attempted.


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