If you've been following Kamala Harris' campaign since the start, or even if you only watched the Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 7, you've most likely noticed the senator's go-to accessory. Harris has worn a pearl necklace for all of her major campaign events. She donned a double-strand pearl necklace when Joe Biden officially made her his running mate. For her swearing into Congress in 2004, Harris went with dark-colored, Tahitian pearls. But the look goes back much further than her political career. Harris' signature pearl necklaces have an important meaning behind them.
For her graduation from Howard University in 1986, Harris wore a single-strand pearl necklace and pearl drop earrings in celebration of her time there. During her college career, Harris was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which was founded in 1908. AKA defines itself as "the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American, college-educated women." The founders and incorporators are called the "Twenty Pearls," and the group uses the jewel in much of its imagery.
“Pearls represent refinement and wisdom,” Glenda Glover, international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha and president of Tennessee State University, told Vanity Fair. “We train young ladies to be leaders and to make sure they have the wisdom to lead … and that goes hand in hand with the true meaning of what Alpha Kappa Alpha is all about.”
Pearls are, by no means, a new style — they're actually the oldest known gem — but they are incredibly classic, elegant, and timeless. Martha Washington, Jackie Kennedy, and Michelle Obama, among at least 20 other first ladies, wore pearls regularly. As the first African American woman on the presidential ticket, her callback not only to her education and sorority, but also to prominent political figures of America's past is just *chef's kiss.*
“The strand of pearls speaks to solidarity among the members,” said Glover. And when asked about having a former member on the presidential ticket, she said, “It’s a great moment for AKA. For African Americans. For women. Whether she wears pearls or not, it’s an inspiration.”