When Kamala Devi Harris took the podium in Delaware last night (Nov. 7) to address the nation as the first woman vice president, men and women, young and old, across the country cheered for the historic moment, for the hope, for the opportunities, and for the possibilities it brings to the country and to the people of the United States. That significance was not lost on Harris, as she spoke at the parking lot of the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, as several hundred supporters cheered, honked their cars and waved American flags and signs supporting the Biden-Harris ticket. Her speech highlighted what their election means to the country and to Americans.
Her choice of attire made a statement as well. Dressed in a Carolina Herrera white pantsuit and silky, pussy-bow blouse, she gave a nod to women suffragists in the early 20th century, who wore all-white attire while fighting for the right to vote. Harris, 56, makes history as America’s first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris was a Tamilian from India, while her father, Donald Harris is a Black man from Jamaica. Along with her mother, Harris’ sister, Maya, and her niece, Meena, play a big role in Harris’ life, along with her husband, Doug Emhoff, and her stepkids, Ella and Cole Emhoff.
In her speech, she acknowledged her family, her late mother and women who have and are making a difference in this world, including the Black women who are “often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy.”
“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 continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard,” she said. “And to my husband Doug and our children Cole and Ella and my sister Maya and our whole family, I love y’all more than I can ever express,” she said, adding, “and to the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who is always in our hearts,” she continued. “When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
She also mentioned President-elect Joe Biden’s “audacity” to pick a woman as his running mate. “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,” Harris said.
Harris is hopeful that her path paves the way for many other women.
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she 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 yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.”
Harris has inspired several South Asian American to run for political office, which is most evident in this election. More than 50 South Asian American women ran for office at the federal, state and local levels. One of them is Kesha Ram, who became the first woman of color in the Vermont State Senate.
“Kamala Harris’ win makes me so emotional,” she tells SEEMA. “Her nomination as vice president has affected me in more ways than I knew.”
Joining Ram is Nima Kulkarni, who was re-elected to her state Senate seat in Kentucky as well as Jenifer Rajkumar, who became the first South Asian woman elected to the New York State Assembly.