Wake Commissioner Jessica Holmes: Biden Choosing a Black Woman as VP Would ‘Break That Glass Ceiling’

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., whispers in the ear of Vice President Joe Biden in the United Nations Security Council, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. Rice is on the shortlist of potential running mates for Biden (AP Photo)

By Max Millington

August 7, 2020

A woman of color would bring a ‘level of perspective that has never before existed in the White House,’ says Holmes.

This is Part 2 of a Cardinal & Pine series, in which influential Black women leaders in NC talk about the possibility of a Black woman vice president. Read Part 1 here.

Of the leading candidates to be presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, more than half are women of color, according to several outlets. 

The pool includes notable lawmakers like California Sen. Kamala Harris and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, as well as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Florida Rep. Val Demings, California Rep. Karen Bass, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and former national security advisor Susan Rice.

Cardinal & Pine wanted to know what that meant to some of NC’s most influential women of color, so we asked. 

Previously, we talked with state Sen. Natalie Murdock.

Our second interview is with North Carolina native Jessica Holmes, who is running to become the state’s next Commissioner of Labor.

Wake Commissioner Jessica Holmes: Biden Choosing a Black Woman as VP Would 'Break That Glass Ceiling'
State Commissioner of Labor candidate Jessica Holmes (Image via Holmes’ campaign)

Holmes, a Democrat, is an employment law attorney from Wake County, where she’s served as a county commissioner since 2014. For two years, she was also the Wake board’s chair, spearheading county plans to offer paid parental leave and living wages for all county employees.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the living wage increase went to school employees as well.)

A first-generation college student, Holmes is also a lecturer at NC State University. Here’s what she had to say about Biden’s VP choice:

C&P: If a woman of color is selected, how do you hope it affects policy in NC?

Jessica: When I ran for (Wake County Commissioner) in 2014, I didn’t see myself reflected on that board. I can’t tell you how many people in Wake County and across North Carolina have said they’re inspired by seeing themselves reflected at the board table.

So, for little girls of color all across our country, to see a woman of color occupy the vice presidency, and to finally break that glass ceiling would not just be an inspiration to little girls, but would be an inspiration to people like myself. Black women who aspire to be in office, as well as Black women who are currently in office.

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C&P: Throughout your career you’ve been an advocate of worker’s rights and racial equity. How do you think Biden’s potential running mate will affect social justice legislation? 

Jessica: Having someone with a perspective and understanding of the unique challenges that our communities face and how we address those communities will be beneficial and having a woman at the table would be helpful. Having a woman of color would bring another level of perspective that has never before existed in the White House at that level in this country.

Also, I want to acknowledge and appreciate that Vice President Biden has made a commitment to make a black woman his very first appointment to the United States Supreme Court. I would dare say, having a lifetime appointment, who’s a Black woman, to the United States Supreme Court is one of the most beautiful legacies that Vice President Biden could offer to the African American community.

C&P: If Biden is elected, what type of role do you hope his VP is able to fulfill?

Jessica: I have a Black agenda for Biden whether he chooses a Black running mate or not.

For starters, one of the things that comes to my mind initially is support of HBCUs here in the south and in North Carolina, which traditionally have trouble getting federal funding. I want an administration that acknowledges racism and institutional racism and wants to improve policies that help right the wrongs of the past in this country in education, affordable housing, and food insecurity. 

Biden is not expected to announce his choice for another week or so, according to several outlets. However, the Democratic convention begins on August 17th so the announcement may be sooner.


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