On the night Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made history, she recognized the long battle women had faced for the right to vote and to break into the highest ranks of American politics – and said that “every little girl watching” across the country now knows they can do so, too.
In a speech Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, before she introduced President-elect Joe Biden, Harris also thanked Black women, saying they are “too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
“And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before. And we will applaud you every step of the way,” she said.
A history-making figure as the first woman, the first Black person and the first South Asian elected vice president, Harris began her speech with a nod to Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who died this year.
Harris was the fourth woman to appear on a major political party’s presidential ticket, following Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Republican No. 2 Sarah Palin in 2008 and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. She is the first to win.
In her speech, Harris also expressed her gratitude to Biden and his family, thanking the President-elect and his wife, Jill Biden, “for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey.” She also mentioned Beau Biden, the President-elect’s late son, who Harris first got to know when they were state attorneys general.
Harris recognized a new generation of women who cast their ballots in 2020, and remembered her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who immigrated to the United States from India as a young woman.
“When she came here when was 19, she could not have imagined this moment,” Harris said of her mother, who died in 2009. “But she believed in an America where moments like this are possible.”
“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 said. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
She wore a white suit, a nod to suffragettes 100 years after women’s constitutional right to vote was guaranteed.
“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,” Harris said. “And what a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country and select a woman as his vice president.”