Kamala Harris has paid tribute to a “generation of women” who stood before her, as she became the first woman and woman of colour to take the title of the vice president-elect of the United States.
Her tribute came during a victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday night where she first thanked her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
“And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today — my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts,” Ms Harris said, adding: “When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
Winning the 2020 election makes Ms Harris the first woman and woman of colour to be announced as the vice president-elect of the United States.
She acknowledged the historic milestone and what it meant for women of all ethnicities.
“And so, I’m thinking about [my mother] and about the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight,” she said. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
Her speech went on to state the century long fight women went through to earn the right to vote – from the enactment of the 19th Amendment in 1920 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
“And now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard,” she said. “Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be, unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders.”
President-elect Joe Biden made it clear once he was selected as the Democrtic Party’s pick for the presidency that he would nominate a woman as his vice president, which Ms Harris said spoke of his “character” to have the “audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country”.
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” Ms Harris said.
The vice president-elect has made her career out of being first.
When she was just 40 years old, Ms Harris – who started out as a prosecutor in Alameda County, California – was elected as the district attorney for San Francisco, making her the first woman and first person of colour to hold that position.
She then became California’s attorney general in 2011, again being the first woman and the first person of colour to hold the position.
Upon winning her US Senate seat in 2017, she became the second Black woman and first South Asian woman to serve as a congressional senator.
Becoming the first woman and woman of colour to be vice president-elect – soon-to-be vice president – of the United States is just one more barrier Ms Harris has broken down in her decades-long career.
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