History was officially made last night (August 19) during the third night of the Democratic National Convention when Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) accepted the vice-presidential nomination for the Democratic presidential ticket, the first Black and South Asian woman to do so, as she runs alongside presidential nominee Joe Biden. News outlets from CNN to the Los Angeles Times covered the event and her speech.
Dressed in a deep maroon-colored suit, Harris began her acceptance by acknowledging that August marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving white women the right to vote. (Black women didn’t get the right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.)
“That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me,” Harris began. “Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification. But they were undeterred.”
After she called some of the women’s names who helped to pave her current path to the White House—Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune. Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash. Constance Baker Motley and Shirley Chisholm—Harris introduced the nation to her own mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated from India at age 19, joined civil rights protests and raised her and her younger sister Maya Harris, as a single mom.
“She raised us to be proud, strong Black women,” Harris beamed. “And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
For more must-read excerpts from Harris’s speech, see below:
On her record:
And at every step of the way, I’ve been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, for the People. I’ve fought for children and survivors of sexual assault. I’ve fought against transnational gangs. I took on the biggest banks and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges. I know a predator when I see one.
On being her mother’s biggest dream come true:
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. 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.
I do so, committed to the values she taught me. To the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight. And to a vision passed on through generations of Americans—one that Joe Biden shares. A vision of our nation as a beloved community—where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.
On COVID-19 and racism:
While this virus touches us all, let’s be honest, it is not an equal opportunity offender. Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism. Of inequities in education and technology, health care and housing, job security and transportation. The injustice in reproductive and maternal health care. In the excessive use of force by police. And in our broader criminal justice system. 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. 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.