By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The Democratic National Convention came to town earlier this week and although it didn’t come in the conventional way, the Democratic National Convention Committee found a way to make it happen. On the third day of the convention, Sen. Kamala Harris stepped up to the microphone and accepted the Democratic party nomination for Vice President of the United States.
President hopeful Joe Biden officially chose Harris as his running mate last week. If elected, Harris will be the first Black, Asian American and woman to be vice president. In her speech, Harris noted the importance of the actions taken by the men and women who came before her, recounted the story of her mother and looked at where America is currently and where it needs to go.
“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.
Harris remarked that this week marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Although it guaranteed a right to vote for women, Black women and other minority groups weren’t always guaranteed the same right, at least not right away.
Black women were undeterred, Harris said. They continued to organize, testify, rally, march and fight.
“These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed. They paved the way for the trailblazing leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” she said. “And these women inspired us to pick up the torch, and fight on.”
Harris listed Mary Church Terrell, Mary McCleod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley and Shirley Chisholm as some examples, she also included Shyamala Gopalan Harris – her mother.
Thanks to her mother’s influence, Harris learned the importance of activism, to be a service to others, to be conscious and compassionate about people’s struggles and more.
Harris said by accepting the nomination she is also committed to the values her mother taught her and to the vision of the nation as a Beloved Community, “where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from or who we love.”
The country that Biden and Harris envision is one, “where we look out for one another, where we rise and fall as one, where we face our challenges and celebrate our triumphs – together.”
Harris noted that right now, that country seems out of reach. At this moment, the country is grieving multiple losses from lives to jobs to opportunities to normalcy. The virus has shown the inequities and injustices that many are facing.
“Black, Latino and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism,” Harris said.
She continued that there are inequities and injustices in education, technology, health care, housing, job security, transportation, reproductive and maternal health care, the criminal justice system, the force by police and more.
“And let’s be clear – there is not vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work,” Harris said, later adding, “We can do better and deserve so much more.”
Biden is the answer, Harris said.
“Joe and I believe that we can build that Beloved Community, one that is strong and decent, just and kind. One in which we all can see ourselves,” Harris said.
She continued, “Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be easy. We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.”
This country will stand together for a better future, she said and it’s happening right now. People are getting ready to vote and encouraging others to do the same.
“In this election, we have a chance to change the course of history. We’re all in this fight,” Harris said. “So, let’s fight with conviction. Let’s fight with hope. Let’s fight with confidence in ourselves, and a commitment to each other. To the America we know is possible. The America, we love.”
To see Harris’ full speech and the rest of the convention, visit demconvetion.com.