‘Chucks & Pearls:’ the force behind Madame VP Kamala Harris

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“Chucks and Pearls” (Courtesy Photo)

By Michelle Richardson
Special to the AFRO

“We’re going to stroll to the polls, ‘Skee-Wee’ at the Inauguration and turn the White House pink and green.” 

That’s just one of the statements made by members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in reference to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. Harris is the first African-American Black and female vice president and the first vice president to have graduated from an HBCU and be a member of a Black greek sorority. 

A Facebook group called “Wear Pearls on Jan. 20, 2021” was started in early December 2020 and now has more than 430,000 members and counting. 

Sandra Broome-Edwards, has worn pearls every day since early January.

“I’ve been sitting at home watching ‘Good Morning America’ with my pearls on. It’s my way of acknowledging the momentous occasion that is coming,” Brooke-Edwards wrote in the Facebook group. 

The pearls that members wear represent the 20 founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Top row l-r: Chucks and Pearls, member Leslie Lyles Smith, Thetius Saunders, golden member of AKA and Member Tamara Lewis; 2nd row l-r: Del. Melissa Wells, Kendra Brown, Kendra Brown UEO chapter president, member Veronica Perry McBeth, AFRO Managing Editor Dorothy Boulware; 3rd row l-r: Andrea Evans, member of the Dallas Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Christel York, former AFRO executive assistant, Karen Gosby, member of the Zeta Delta Sigma chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and Nakiya Showell, chapter vice president. (Courtesy Photos)

Supporters of Harris have noticed that she likes to wear Converse Chuck Taylor tennis shoes with her pearls.

“Chucks to me represent being approachable and it just shows that I’m a regular person just like you,” another user wrote in a Facebook group titled “Chucks and Pearls Day.”

Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris was photographed for Vogue magazine. In one of the pictures, she’s standing in front of a pink and green backdrop wearing her pearls and Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. 

Although women all over the world, greek and non-greek, are proud that a woman who looks like them is on the cover of a major magazine, there was some backlash over the cover. 

Vogue photographed Harris for two separate covers. The aforementioned cover and another one where Harris is wearing a powder blue Michael Kors suit in front of a gold background. 

The Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan stated “Vogue robbed Harris of her roses. A bit of awe would have served the magazine well in its cover decisions. Nothing about the cover said, ‘Wow.’ And sometimes, that’s all Black women want, an admiring and celebratory ‘wow’ over what they have accomplished,” in reference to the magazine using the more casual photo. 

There was also some backlash about the lighting of VP Harris’s skin tone with some on social media calling it a “washed out mess.” 

Last week, the editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, discussed the negative reaction to the photo. 

“Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover, and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice-president-elect’s incredible victory.”

The original photo by Tyler Mitchell, the first African-American photographer to shoot a U.S. Vogue cover, was chosen for its accessibility and approachability.

A Vogue spokesperson said “In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special edition inauguration issues.”

No matter which cover was chosen, Kamala Harris is backed by a group of women that are proudly rocking their pearls and chucks all day on Jan. 20.