With the changing of the president, so many political hotshots made their way to the Capital, and in the crowd, one color stood out. Purple is the color of the 2021 Inauguration. Former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton wore purple pantsuits while new Vice President Kamala Harris wore a long royal purple overcoat and dress. Elizabeth Warren was also spotted with a purple scarf. The reason behind this color may be a message of unity, a callback to a previous election, and the suffragette movement.
Purple, as you might remember from grade school, is a combination of red and blue. Unity between the two major political parties was a major talking point throughout Biden and Harris' campaign, and following the violent riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Biden's message of unity was stronger than ever. So many political figures wearing the literal combination of Democrats and Republicans is seemingly an allusion to the new administration's goal of bringing back a more decent, unified political climate. Of course, there's still even more to unpack with purple.
"When [Harris] ran for president, one of the colors of her campaign was purple and yellow," CNN Political Correspondent Abby Phillip reported on air. The color is also a "nod to Shirley Chisholm, a Black woman who ran for president decades ago and has inspired [Harris'] political career." As Harris is the first Black and South Asian vice president, the symbolism is a stark reminder of how far the nation has come.
Going back even further in time, purple is noted as one of the main colors of the U.S. women's suffrage flag. At the time of the women's rights movement, the purple stripe stood for loyalty. Vice President Harris has paid homage to the early 1900s suffragette movement throughout her campaign. At her victory speech on Nov. 7, Harris wore an all-white pantsuit, an obvious nod to another iconic color of the suffragettes.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that Hillary Clinton previously wore purple during her campaign against Trump in 2016. In fact, the former first lady wore almost the exact same shade of royal purple to Biden's inauguration that she wore in her concession speech to Trump.
Purple is clearly a color rich in meanings that are all so allegorical and relevant on this historic day. Whether choice of purple was done with all of those references in mind or only one of them, it's definitely an incredibly powerful image.