Cleo Parker Robinson recalls the conversations around the kitchen table when she was a young Black girl in Denver during the Jim Crow era.

They talked about all kinds of things, like homework and bullying in school, and “heavy topics” like cross burnings, cops following her Black father around, how her family could buy a house in Denver only if her white mother purchased it.

Early on, she was trained in nonviolence. And at the age of 10, she almost died because a segregated hospital in Dallas wouldn’t admit her for treatment for a kidney condition.

“I’ve seen so much change. I see transformation all the time,” the 72-year-old founder of the 50-year-old Cleo Parker Robinson Dance studio said. “And every time I see transformation, I celebrate it, and I make it loud and clear that I’ve seen an experience that is possible.”

Erin Schaff, The New York Times

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

This week’s experience of seeing Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first female vice president of the United States brought a sense of pride and transformation that Robinson first felt when Barack Obama was elected president.

“(Obama’s election) was our first moment of possibility. But because it took so long, it took so long to get there, my heart cried with joy and pain,” she said Wednesday. “And I feel the same way today, it took so long. But I am grateful.”

Young, old, gay, straight, Black, white and otherwise diverse people watched Harris — who is Black and South Asian — ascend to the second-most powerful position in the U.S. on Wednesday. Many who spoke to The Denver Post said they wore Chuck Taylor sneakers and pearls in honor of Harris’ sartorial staples. Others wore shirts that were uplifting to them, including at least one that said “brown girl magic.”

And all of the Colorado women, particularly women of color, found in Harris another icon to accompany the others who’ve broken the glass ceiling.

Margaret Wright answered the phone with a celebratory whoop Wednesday morning. The 67-year-old Pueblo woman got dressed and ready, lipstick and all, to watch the inauguration. She recorded it on every channel she could find.

“I want every version there is of this moment,” Wright said.

Wright, like Harris, is familiar with firsts. She is the first Black woman elected to the Pueblo School District 60 board, where she has served as vice president, and is the first Black woman appointed as chair of Colorado’s Juvenile Parole Board.

In looking at Wednesday’s history and her own, Wright felt it was critical to honor the trailblazers who came before her, especially Shirley Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first Black woman elected to Congress.

“In the darkest hour, a light can shine,” Wright said. “If you look at the civil rights movement and see Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm … you can look now in the middle of all we’ve been through — even in this darkness — a light like Vice President Kamala Harris can shine in the White House. It brings hope to our nation. It brings hope to our children of the United States of America.”

LEFT: Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., announces her intent to run for president in Brooklyn in 1972. RIGHT: Arie Taylor, who in 1973 became the state’s first Black woman elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, is pictured on Oct. 24, 1985. (Photos by Don Hogan Charles, The New York Times and Denver Post file)