Posted on August 20, 2020

Harris’s Nomination Is a Dream Fulfilled

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, August 20, 2020

Brenda Lee Pryce wanted to be alone when Kamala D. Harris spoke the words.

So just before Harris accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for vice president Wednesday, Pryce stepped into the study of her Spartanburg, S.C., home. There, surrounded by books and a painting inscribed with the phrase “Black Women Vote,” the 72-year-old felt no need to hold back tears.

After decades of marshaling Black women to help men of all colors attain political power, Pryce was finally watching one of her own make history as the first Black woman to accept a major party’s nomination for vice president.

“What [Black women have] done all our lives is hold up the Democratic Party,” said Pryce, a former state legislator who remains an influential figure in South Carolina politics. “We’ve supported the Democratic Party for so long. It’s time for them to support us.”


Her first close-up view of political power came in the early 1990s. She had returned to college as an older student and, while there, got a job as a political page for State Sen. Jim Stevens (D). Pryce understood the appointment was not an act of pure altruism: Stevens realized he could not court Horry County’s Black vote while touting an all-white staff. {snip}

A few years later, she was the campaign manager for a history teacher who sought a Congressional seat named James E. Clyburn {snip}


She retired a decade later, but continued to advise candidates. And as the Black population grew in her corner of the state, it became increasingly important for politicians to have “Ms. Brenda’s” blessing. “This is my life,” she said. “Trying to give other people opportunities.”


Pryce was enamored of the California senator from the start. She sped through her book and pored over news articles about her. {snip}


“I was just glued to her,” Pryce said. “First of all Kamala is smart. We like smart women. But she also had that magic about her. I saw the same thing in her I saw in Clyburn.”


Clyburn was largely credited with breathing life into Biden’s campaign, but insiders said Biden’s strength lay in loyal Black women.

{snip} When Biden’s campaign announced the news this month, Pryce ran through her home screaming.

On Wednesday night, as Harris prepared to speak, Pryce again tapped into her network of Black women across the state, sending emails and working the phone. The night’s ask would not require them to cook anything or show up anywhere. She simply wanted them to flip their porch lights on, in a symbolic show of support.

“I told them I wanted us all to light the way for Kamala all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”