Kamala Harris accepted her place in history on Saturday night with a speech honoring the women who she said “paved the way for this moment tonight”, when the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants would stand before the nation as the vice-president-elect of the United States.
With her ascension to the nation’s second highest office, Harris, 56, will become the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected vice president, a reality that shaped her speech and brought tears to the eyes of many women and girls watching from the hoods of their cars in the parking lot of a convention center in Wilmington, Delaware.
Wearing an all-white pantsuit, in an apparent tribute to the suffragists who fought for a woman’s right to vote, Harris smiled, exultant, as she waved from the podium waiting for the blare of car horns and cheers to subside. Joe Biden, the president-elect, would speak next. This was a moment all her own.
She began her remarks with a tribute to the legacy of the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle,” Harris said. “It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress. Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future.”
With Harris poised to become the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government, this milestone marks the extraordinary arc of a political career that has broken racial and gender barriers at nearly every turn. As a prosecutor, she rose to become the first Black woman attorney general of California. When she was elected to the Senate in 2016, she became only the second Black woman in history to serve in the chamber.
In her remarks, Harris paid tribute to the women across the country – and through history – who paved the way for this moment. She specifically honored the contributions of Black women to the struggle for suffrage, equality and civil rights – leaders who are “too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy”.
Read more of Lauren Gambino’s report here: ‘I won’t be the last’: Kamala Harris, first woman elected US vice-president, accepts place in history