WASHINGTON – In her first speech as vice president-elect, Kamala Harris invoked not only the historic nature of her election, but praised those who came before her to help pave the path to the White House.
Harris, who walked out to her signature theme, “Work That” by Mary J. Blige, began her speech by referencing the late-Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who died earlier this year, byt praising voters for ushering in a “new day” for America.
“When our very democracy was on the ballot,” said Harris, the first Black and first Asian American woman vice president during remarks at Chase Center in Wilmington, Del, “you ushered in a new day for America.”
Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, spoke of her mother, who came to the United States at the age of 19, saying she might not have imagined this moment but that she “believed so deeply in a America where a moment like this is possible.”
“So I’m thinking about her, and about the generations of women, Black women,” Harris said, pausing as the crowd cheered. “Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.”
Harris highlighted the work that Black women specifically have put into this nation’s democracy. Black voters, particularly Black women, helped pushed Joe Biden’s victory in the primary and onto victory to the White House.
“Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all,” she said, “including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
In what was likely an homage to suffragettes of the 20th century who worked to get women the right to vote, Harris wore a crisp, white suit while she talked about the movement that allowed women to vote in such a historic election.
The Democratic Women’s Caucus earlier this year wore all white to the State of the Union address, marking 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Hillary Clinton also wore a white suit during her acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
And Geraldine Ferraro wore white when she accepted the nomination to become the first female candidate for vice president for a major American political party at the 1984 Democratic convention.
“All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century, 100 years ago with the 19th amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continue the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard,” Harris 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,” she added. “And I stand on their shoulders.”
Contributing: Annah Aschbrenner