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In a Barrier-Breaking Victory Speech, Kamala Harris Says She May Be the First, 'But I Will Not Be the Last’
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BY MICHAEL ZENNIE
UPDATED: NOVEMBER 7, 2020 10:36 PM EST | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 7, 2020 10:11 PM EST
Kamala Harris credited the work of generations of women for her barrier-breaking election as Vice President of the United States in a victory speech on Saturday night.
“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, adding: “Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision—to see what can be unburdened by what has been—I stand on their shoulders.”
Her election to the second-highest office in the land will break several barriers. She will be the first woman in the job, she will be the first Black woman, the first Indian-American and the first daughter of immigrants. Harris took the stage in Wilmington, Del., to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” wearing suffragette white. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave some women the right to vote.
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Read more: The Historic Barriers Kamala Harris Overcame to Become the First Female, First Black and First Asian American Vice President-Elect
“But 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.”
Harris and Biden gave victory speeches to cheering, honking crowd of supporters, many of whom were socially distanced in their vehicles after she and Biden were declared winners of the 2020 presidential election following the Democrats’ victory in Pennsylvania.
Harris, a U.S. Senator from California, said her election delivered a clear message to children all across the country to “dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way others may not, simply because they have never seen it before.”
And she credited Biden’s “audacity” in picking her as his running mate, which allowed her to break “one of the most substantial barriers that exists in this country.”
Harris credited activists who protested against President Donald Trump’s administration, and later campaigned and voted against him for the Democrats’ victory in the race for the White House.
“America’s democracy is not guaranteed, it is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it to guard it and never take it for granted,” she said. “And protecting our democracy takes struggle, 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.”
She said supporters “chose hope and unity decency, science—and yes—truth,” adding: “The road ahead will not be easy, but America is ready and so are Joe and I.”
Read the full text of Harris’ prepared remarks:
Good evening.
Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote: “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” And what he meant was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. There is joy in it and there is progress.
Because we the people have the power to build a better future. And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.
To our campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team—thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process and for making this victory possible.
To the poll workers and election officials across our country who have worked tirelessly to make sure every vote is counted—our nation owes you a debt of gratitude as you have protected the integrity of our democracy.
And to the American people who make up our beautiful country — thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard.
I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months.The grief, sorrow, and pain. The worries and the struggles. But we’ve also witnessed your courage, your resilience, and the generosity of your spirit.
For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet. And then, you voted. You delivered a clear message. You chose hope, unity, decency, science, and, yes, truth. You chose Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America.
Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us, as a nation, reclaim our own sense of purpose.
And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon. It’s his love for Jill, who will be an incredible First Lady. It’s his love for Hunter, Ashley, his grandchildren, and the entire Biden family. And while I first knew Joe as Vice President, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau, my dear friend, who we remember here today.
To my husband Doug, our children Cole and Ella, my sister Maya, and our whole family — I love you all more than I can express. We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey.
And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today — my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts. When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.
So, 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. 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.
All the women who 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 continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — I stand on their shoulders.
And what a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his Vice President.
But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.
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.
To the American people: No matter who you voted for, I will strive to be the Vice President that Joe was to President Obama — loyal, honest, and prepared, waking up every day thinking of you and your families.
Because now is when the real work begins. The hard work. The necessary work. The good work. The essential work to save lives and beat this pandemic. To rebuild our economy so it works for working people. To root out systemic racism in our justice system and society.
To combat the climate crisis. To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation. The road ahead will not be easy. But America is ready. And so are Joe and I.
We have elected a President who represents the best in us. A leader the world will respect and our children can look up to. A Commander-in-Chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe. And a President for all Americans. It is now my great honor to introduce the President-elect of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
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POLITICS 2020 ELECTION