California Sen. Kamala Harris embraced her Blackness and paid homage to her Indian mother Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention.
As the first Black and South Asian woman to accept a major political party’s vice presidential nomination, the former prosecutor spoke of equality, liberty and justice, as well as the importance of women’s rights.
“This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. And we celebrate the women who fought for that right,” she said. “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.”
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Harris praised her immigrant mother, and said she raised the future politician to be a “strong Black woman.”
“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother — Shyamala Gopalan Harris. She came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris — who had come from Jamaica to study economics,” Harris said.
“My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives,” she continued. “She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
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Harris said she wished her late mother could be there to witness her historic speech as Joe Biden’s running mate.
“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,” Harris said. “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.”
After silencing birthers who claim she was born outside the U.S., Harris tore into President Trump.
“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” she said as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country.
“If you’re a parent struggling with your child’s remote learning, or you’re a teacher struggling on the other side of that screen, you know that what we’re doing right now isn’t working,” Harris stated. “And we are a nation that’s grieving. Grieving the loss of life, the loss of jobs, the loss of opportunities, the loss of normalcy. And yes, the loss of certainty.”
In addition to Kamala Harris, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former President Barack Obama all spoke Wednesday.
Jennifer Hudson closed out the night with a moving performance of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”