Harris’s allies wonder anxiously: Will she have real clout?

But while Black activists remain excited about Harris’s ascent, many now worry that the administration will not deliver much beyond her historic election — a fear sharpened by Democrats’ disappointing performance in congressional races, which has dramatically limited Biden’s maneuvering room.

Their worries are underlined by the ongoing uncertainty over what exactly Harris’s portfolio will be in the Biden administration, and how much freedom she will have to chart her own course on issues like racial justice and immigration.

“I really want her to be a transformative leader. I don’t want her to be transactional,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. “What I am hoping is she becomes the lightning rod.”

Brown conceded that will be a challenge amid emerging signs that President-elect Joe Biden’s longtime advisers will hold an array of influential positions in his administration. “The entire political landscape has been dominated by White, male-centered power,” Brown said. “I certainly think there’s going to be a strain within the administration. I think there’s going to be a strain within government.”