Barbara Lee dons Shirley Chisholm's pearls for Inauguration Day: 'Because of Shirley Chisholm, Vice President Harris is'

Barbara Lee dons Shirley Chisholm's pearls for Inauguration Day: 'Because of Shirley Chisholm, Vice President Harris is'
© Rep. Barbara Lee Twitter

Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeProgressives push White House to overturn wage ruling Lawmakers, Martin Luther King III discuss federal responses to systematic racism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help MORE (D-Calif.) wore pearls that once belonged to the late politician Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress, to the historic inauguration of Vice President Harris and President BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE on Wednesday.

Lee tweeted a photograph of herself sporting the pearls, saying she was given the pearls by Chisholm’s goddaughter. 


Lee discussed the fashion choice in a brief phone interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid early Wednesday while attending the inauguration in the stands. 

“I am wearing Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s pearls,” Lee said.

“And really, because of Shirley Chisholm, I am. Because of Shirley Chisholm, Kamala is. And I am just feeling Shirley Chisholm’s happiness, her spirit,” she said.


On Wednesday, Harris became the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to be sworn in as the nation’s vice president. She was sworn by Supreme Court Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorJudge whose son was killed by gunman says Sotomayor also targeted A powerful tool to take on the Supreme Court — if Democrats use it right Supreme Court grants Alabama death row inmate's request for pastor MORE, the first Latina to serve on the high court.

The historic moment comes almost five decades after Chisholm launched her “Unbought and Unbossed” campaign for president, becoming the first Black American to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

“This is long overdue,” Lee said in the interview on Wednesday, “about 50 years after she was elected and ran for the presidency.”

“This time has finally come. She paved the way for all of us,” she added.

The California congresswoman also shared a congratulatory message to Harris and President Joe Biden on Twitter while wearing the pearls earlier in the day.

The vice president also joined Lee in wearing a string of pearls to her inauguration on Wednesday.

Harris is often seen wearing pearls, which many see as a gesture to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest African American Greek-lettered sorority in the country.