Kamala Harris made history on Wednesday night as she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination, becoming the first Black woman and the first Indian-American to be on a major party ticket.
Harris, 55, delivered a rousing speech to American voters and made her pitch for why she and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should become the nation’s next leaders in 2021.
Standing at a podium in Biden’s hometown, Wilmington, Del., Harris opened her remarks by acknowledging Black women for their sacrifice and loyalty to the Democratic Party. For that loyalty, African American women have been labeled the “backbone” of the party.
“They paved the way for the trailblazing leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And these women inspired us to pick up the torch, and fight on,” Harris said.
She also paid homage to Black women who came before her in politics and civil rights, paving the way for her historic moment. Harris, only the second Black woman in history to serve as a United States senator, recalled the names of Mary Church Terrell, Mary McCleod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley and Shirley Chisholm.
The Howard University graduate shouted out her HBCU and Divine Nine “family” as well. “Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha … our Divine Nine … and my HBCU brothers and sisters,” she said.
Harris tributed to her deceased mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who immigrated to America from India at 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer.
“My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she’s looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of five feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California,” said Harris.
“On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for Vice President of the United States of America.”
Harris called out President Donald Trump by name and criticized his leadership in handling the coronavirus pandemic, among other perceived shortcomings. The former prosecutor also spoke out against the racial injustices that provoked national unrest and demands for systemic change.
“This virus has no eyes, and yet it knows exactly how we see each other — and how we treat each other. And let’s be clear — there is no vaccine for racism,” Harris said.
“We’ve gotta do the work. For George Floyd. For Breonna Taylor. For the lives of too many others to name. For our children. For all of us. We’ve gotta do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law. Because, none of us are free … until all of us are free.”
Harris praised her running mate, Joe Biden, as someone who will “bring us together to end this pandemic and make sure that we are prepared for the next one. She continued, “Joe will bring us together to squarely face and dismantle racial injustice, furthering the work of generations.
“Joe and I believe that we can build that Beloved Community, one that is strong and decent, just and kind. One in which we all can see ourselves.”
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