NEW YORK (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday will become the first woman to deliver a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, an institution that has made slow progress in diversifying its ranks in the four decades since that the first class of cadets graduated. .
This year, some 950 men and women are expected to take part in the graduation ceremony at West Point, New York.
As Harris visits West Point, about 96 miles north of Manhattan, President Joe Biden travels to Colorado Springs, Colorado on Thursday to address graduates of the US Air Force Academy.
Vice presidents typically travel to one of the Federal Service Academies to address the graduating classes. Harris’ visit will be his first at the U.S. Army Academy.
Today, about a quarter of students are women. Only a few dozen graduates each year are black women, like Harris, although the number has increased in recent years. The academy only admitted women in 1976 and had its first female graduates in 1980.
West Point dates back to 1802. Since then, the college has trained future military leaders, including General Douglas MacArthur, General George Patton, and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Upon graduation, cadets will be commissioned as Army Second Lieutenants.
Last year, Harris spoke to graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The previous year, she spoke at the opening ceremonies of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.