iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
After becoming the first woman of color and first Indian American to be nominated to run as the Democratic Party’s candidate for Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris introduced herself as a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants who fell in love marching for civil rights in the 1960s.
“It is truly an honor to be speaking with you. That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me. Women and men who believed so fiercely in the promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all,” Harris said to the millions watching the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Centre in Wisconsin.
She spoke of the struggle of black women.
“They paved the way for the trailblazing leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Women like Mary Church Terrell and Mary McCleod Bethune. Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash. Constance Baker Motley and Shirley Chisholm. We’re not often taught their stories. But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.”
Harris then spoke about her mother.
“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother – Shyamala Gopalan Harris. She came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris – who had come from Jamaica to study economics. They fell in love in that most American way – while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, I got a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called ‘good trouble’.
“When I was 5, my parents split and my mother raised us mostly on her own,” Harris said.
“My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives. She raised us to be proud, strong black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
At one point, she used the Tamil word for aunts: “…family is my uncles, my aunts and my chithis.”
She called her mother “the most important person in my life.”
“My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she’s looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman – all of five feet tall – who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for Vice President of the United States of America.”
She delved into the twin pandemics of Covid-19, and racism.
“And while this virus touches us all, let’s be honest, it is not an equal opportunity offender. Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism,” she said.
“Of inequities in education and technology, health care and housing, job security and transportation. The injustice in reproductive and maternal health care. In the excessive use of force by police. And in our broader criminal justice system.”
She hailed Joe Biden.
“Right now, we have a President who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a President who turns our challenges into purpose. Joe will bring us together to build an economy that doesn’t leave anyone behind. Where a good-paying job is the floor, not the ceiling.”
She spoke of her vision for an inclusive and caring America, and said the country was at an inflection point.
“Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? They will ask us, what was it like?
“And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”