Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a Black and South Asian woman, didn’t shy away from noting how her vice presidential candidacy is historic as she accepted her nomination as Joe Biden’s running mate during the third night of the Democratic National Convention. And she nodded to some came before her.
Harris kicked off her speech by remembering women — especially Black women — who paved the way for expanding voting rights.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they organized and testified and rallied and marched and fought not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table,” Harris said. “These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed.”
Harris said that the fight for women’s voting rights “paved the way for the trailblazing leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” before going on to pay tribute to her late mother — an Indian woman who came to the U.S. at age 19 to “pursue her dream of curing cancer” and met Harris’ father while they were marching together for justice in the 1960s civil rights movement.
In acknowledging that her parents split when she was just 5 years old, Harris said that her mother raised her and her sister, Maya, to be “proud” Black and Indian women who put “family first.” Harris vowed that she is committed to the values that her mother taught her, which, she said, “Biden shares.”
She and Biden stand for “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,” Harris said.
Harris noted that nowadays the “country feels distant” due to President Trump’s “failure of leadership” as the nation grieves from the COVID-19 pandemic. Her pointed jabs at Trump included saying that there’s “no vaccine for racism” as she acknowledged the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black people at the hands of police brutality.
“We’ve got to do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law,” Harris said. “Because here’s the thing: none of us are free until all of us are free.”
Harris argued that the country is at an “inflection point” where “incompetence makes us feel afraid.” But, she said, “we can do better and deserve so much more.”
“We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work,” Harris said. “A president who will bring all of us together—Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous—to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden.”
Harris also spoke to her relationship with Biden’s late son Beau, recalling their time serving as attorneys general.
The California senator went on to slam Trump again for turning “our tragedies into political weapons” while saying that Biden will “be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.”
“We may stumble. We may fall short, but I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly,” Harris said. “We will speak truths, and we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us. We believe that our country, all of us will stand together for a better future. And we already are.”
Harris concluded her acceptance speech by describing the Democratic fight she would help lead as an “awesome responsibility,” and an “awesome privilege.”
“So let’s fight with conviction. Let’s fight with hope. Let’s fight with confidence in ourselves and a commitment to each other,” Harris said. “To the America we know is possible. The America we love.”