ORLANDO, Fla. – As Orlando’s first Black female police chief, U.S. Rep. Val Demings knows something about making history.
Last month, she had the opportunity to witness it when Vice President Kamala Harris was inaugurated.
“It’s almost like when she raised her hand and took the oath, time just kind of stood still,” Demings said.
The congresswoman and her husband, the mayor of Orange County, made the trip to Washington to witness the historic inauguration where Harris was sworn into office. It’s a day Demings said should hold special meaning for everyone.
“Every American, regardless of their gender, or the color of their skin, or sexual orientation or religion or anything else should have been proud on that day to see Kamala Harris sworn in as the first woman to serve as vice president of the United States,” Demings said.
Demings was nearly the one standing next to President Joe Biden. She was on the short list of VP candidates.
Demings said it was an honor to be considered and what was even more meaningful was the support and love she received from Central Florida.
“I received so many messages, cards, phone calls‚ emails, texts, posts from people in my hometown. I’m just so proud… and just sending the best wishes and so excited,” she said.
And while it was Harris who would eventually take the oath as vice president, the two women have a lot in common.
Both are lifelong public servants who broke numerous glass ceilings in their rise through law enforcement and politics -- Demings with the Orlando Police Department and now in the U.S. House of Representatives and Harris as the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general.
Harris also holds the second most powerful position in the country.
Demings said seeing all of this unfold is a reminder the American dream is alive.
“You know we talk a lot about America being the greatest country in the world and with the best democracy. We talk a lot about America being the land of opportunity and seeing her sworn in really demonstrated that America can live up to its promise,” she said.
A promise kept not just to her and Harris, but to those who will follow in their footsteps.
“As an African American female who grew up in the South the daughter of a maid and a janitor, watching her be sworn in, I think was such a proud moment but also sends a message, a strong message, to every other little girl and boy that they can live the American dream because we’re witnessing the American dream,” she said.