Dressed in the white of suffragettes, Kamala Harris addressed the nation Saturday in a speech that traced the arc of history to the moment she was elected as the country’s first woman vice president.
At the center of her words were Black women, to whom Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, credited her historic achievement. Black women, Harris said, “are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
Harris will be the first Black woman vice president and first person of South Asian descent to hold the office. It was a reflection of the weight of history in Harris’s election that she spoke Saturday, on a night usually reserved for the president-elect.
It reflected, too, the huge importance Harris’s selection has had for Joe Biden’s campaign, providing a jolt of energy and inspiration for many Democrats, as well as a vision of the future that Biden, a 77-year-old white man, could not offer.
As she introduced Biden, Harris praised him for having “the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president.”
She began, though, with her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who came to the United States at 19. “Maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said. “But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
“So I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black women. Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation's history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.”
She placed her election in history, saying she was thinking of the “struggle” of the women who came before her to secure voting rights for women, of “their determination and the strength of their vision, to see what can be unburdened by what has been. I stand on their shoulders.”
And she spoke directly to “every little girl watching” and to what could come next.
“While I may be the first woman in this office,” Harris said, “I won’t be the last.”