A Wise Latina From the Bronx Took Center Stage in History at Today’s Inauguration

History today was made as Kamala Harris was sworn in as America’s first woman Vice-President and first Black and Indian American to hold that position—and a woman from The Bronx was part of this historic moment.

Sonia Sotomayor, the Bronx born and raised Puerto Rican who went on to become America’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, administered the vice presidential oath to Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris (left) is sworn in as vice-president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right) from The Bronx.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, this moment is monumental for our country.

Two women of color making history for all the world to see showing young girls across the country and that there is a place for them at the top, especially young girls of color.

Justice Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 in The Bronx and raised in Soundview at the Bronxdale Houses, a New York City Housing project which was renamed Sotomayor Houses in 2010 in her honor.

During her grammar school years she attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School and went on to Cardinal Spellman High School (my alma mater) where she graduated in 1972 as valedictorian.

Sotomayor went on to attend Princeton University on a full scholarship and then onto Yale Law School and was awarded her Juris Doctor from that institution in 1979.

Fast forward to 1992, the future Supreme Court justice shattered the glass ceiling when she became the youngest judge in the Southern District, the first federal judge in New York State of Latino descent and the first Puerto Rican female judge to serve in a US federal court.

Then in 2009, then President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court and on August 6 of that year she was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in two days later becoming the 111th justice of the Supreme Court and the first Latina and Puerto Rican to serve as such in American history.

And now today, a wise Latina from The Bronx made history yet again as she administered the oath of office to America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice-President and all under the backdrop of the Capital dome which was constructed right here in The Bronx.

Many Bronxites also commented on the historical significance of the day including Marjorie Velasquez, a progressive Democrat running for New York City Council District 13 which covers the East Bronx neighborhoods from Co-op City to Throggs Neck and Morris Park to City Island.

“It’s hard to find the words to express what it felt like watching the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, swear in the first woman–a Black and South Asian daughter of immigrants–to become Vice President of the United States.” said Velasquez.

And it wasn’t only Justice Sotomayor representing The Bronx but JLo was there too singing “This Land is Your Land” as part of the inaugural festivities something noted by Velasquez who added, “And having Jennifer Lopez there singing at the inauguration, another Latina from The Bronx, was such a powerful reminder that any of us could be there. Representation has been hard won, but finally, we’re seeing it.”

“We did this” she added.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.