The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 03, 2021 1:00 am

Political notebook

Pearls encouraged for Inauguration Day

Journal Gazette

It's all about the pearls on Jan. 20.

Well, not just pearls. The third Wednesday in January is when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated, and plenty of women in Fort Wayne and beyond are celebrating the historic event.

Harris will be the first female VP and first Black and Asian American to hold the nation's second-highest position. And she's known to wear pearls. Members of a sorority she's part of – Alpha Kappa Alpha – often wear the symbolic jewelry, in recognition of its 20 founders.

When Harris accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in August, she said family extends beyond bloodlines and includes AKA sorority members.

“Harris's bond with AKA is so strong that she always wears as a symbol of solidarity with her sisters: pearls,” Town & Country Magazine reported. Other women in political circles, as reported, have also dressed up their outfits with pearls, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former first lady Hillary Clinton and congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

A Facebook page has popped up encouraging women: “Wear Pearls on Jan 20th, 2021.” Numerous Fort Wayne-area residents have joined this public group, which had more than 246,000 members as of early Wednesday morning.

Deborah Godwin-Starks, a local gospel radio talk-show host, posted pictures of herself, including one of her wearing pearl earrings and a layered pearl necklace with a comment proclaiming “I am Ready.”

Venecia Warfield Smith posted a photo just before Christmas of her feet in white gym shoes. “Lol they actually have pearls on them. Yes I'm ready,” her post said. More than 1,100 people clicked “like” on the post.

“I ordered those shoes last year for my 60th birthday party because my theme was denim and pearls,” Smith, who is retired, said by telephone. Smith also said she has a jacket with pearls she plans to wear Jan. 20.

The page includes members of various ethnicities and all ages, including toddlers. One woman, a Capi Zabala, posted a picture about a week before Christmas and said “Pearls are locked & loaded for 1-20.” Her post also encouraged ladies to wear their heels because, “you know ... with all that shattered glass on the ground from breaking the ceiling.”

Several other Facebook pages have similar themes, including Chucks and Pearls Day, January 20th, 2021, Minnesota Chapter Wear Pearls on Inauguration Day January 20, 2021, and a private group January 20th 2021 VA wears pearls for our V.P. Kamala Harris.

Resolve to write state lawmakers

Need a New Year's resolution?

The Fort Wayne Community School board's got you covered: Write or call your state legislator.

Members embraced the idea at their December meeting when discussions drifted to the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission's recommendations for increasing average teacher pay to at least $60,000 in Indiana.

Member Steve Corona suggested state leaders reduce funding for the voucher program.

Board Secretary Anne Duff endorsed the idea but said there's concern among public education advocates that the School Choice Scholarships will be expanded.

People should be prepared to contact their representatives, Duff said.

It doesn't take much to get lawmakers' attention, said Maria Norman, board vice president. Few people contact them, she said, so three or four emails can make a subject a hot topic.

“Your voice does make a difference,” Norman said.

Julie Hollingsworth, the board president, encouraged people to share concerns with Martin Carbaugh, who has been a FWCS ally and serves on the House Education Committee.

“Tell your story,” Hollingsworth said, “particularly if you're a parent.”

Such a new year's resolution would be proactive as legislators prepare for a budget year.

“Let's reach out to them now,” Hollingsworth said, “because this is going to be such an important session.”

TV reporter joins city agency

The city of Fort Wayne's Community Development Division has hired a new public information officer.

Angelica Pickens, formerly an investigative reporter, fill-in anchor and multimedia journalist at WANE-TV, started Monday.

“We're excited to have Angelica as part of our leadership team in Community Development. Her professional experiences and expertise will assist us in our continued efforts to provide the public and media with important and timely information using several different platforms to help meet the needs of the community,” Nancy Townsend, the city's community development director, said in a statement. “Angelica's professionalism, commitment to community engagement and educational background are unique attributes that make her a great fit for our organization.”

Pickens earned a master of journalism degree at DePaul University in Chicago and a bachelor of arts in communication, journalism and public relations from the University of Cincinnati. She is also an adjunct professor of communications at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

She replaces Mary Tyndall as spokeswoman for the Community Development Division. Tyndall recently accepted a position as the Double Up program manager and chief storyteller for the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, the news release said.

Tyndall worked in the Community Development Division for eight of her 13 years with the city.

Lisa Green, Ashley Sloboda and Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Niki Kelly at Political Notebook can be found at

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