10 Times Kamala Harris Captured Our Attention With Her Inspiring Speeches
Kamala Harris' most impactful words
At the US Capitol in Washington DC, on January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the nation's first female vice president, making history as the first woman of color to hold the title. Harris seems to have a knack for always being the first to do something. She was elected to the Senate in 2017, becoming the second African-American woman and the first South Asian-American senator in US history. She was California's first Black female attorney general while she worked as a prosecutor. She has broken many barriers on her path to becoming the highest-ranking woman in the history of the American government. As one of the most watched women in the world, here are ten of Harris's most motivational quotes from her long, illustrious career.
“Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome; that we will rise. This is American aspiration,” Harris said during the Celebrating America TV special, per Harper's Bazaar. “American Aspiration is what drove the women in this nation, throughout history, to demand equal rights. And the authors of the Bill of Rights, to claim freedoms that had rarely been written down before.”
2. Women making history
“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,” Harris said during her victory speech, reported Washington Post. “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. What a testament it is to Joe’s character that he dared 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.”
“Imperfect though we may be, I believe we are a great country,” Harris—the child of two immigrant parents, Shyamala Gopalan from India and Donald Harris from British Jamaica—said during her first speech on the Senate floor, per Times of San Diego. “And part of what makes us great is our democratic institutions that protect our fundamental ideals—freedom of religion and the rule of law, protection from discrimination based on national origin, freedom of the press, and a 200-year history as a nation built by immigrants.”
4. Being the first
“My mother used to tell me—she would tell my sister—my mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last,’” Harris said during an inspirational speech she delivered at Spelman College back in 2018, per Vogue India. “And that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”
5. Speaking up
“What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters,” Harris told Marie Claire. “You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you applauding you. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.”
6. Black women's issues
“It’s interesting because as the first Black woman elected to the many positions I’ve been elected to, I am often in rooms and have been in rooms, where a reporter or someone else will come up to me and they’ll say, ‘So, talk to us about Black women’s issues.’ And I’ll look at them and think, ‘You know what, I am so glad you want to talk about the economy.’ Or sometimes say, ‘I am so glad you want to talk about national security.’ Because what we know is this: yes, there are issues that explicitly impact the Black community. Simply put, every issue is a Black woman’s issue. And Black women’s issues are everyone’s issues,” she said during her lecture at Spelman College in 2018, per Stylist magazine.
“Anyone who claims to be a leader must speak like a leader. That means speaking with integrity and truth,” Harris said in an Instagram post in 2019. And she does speak like a leader. In another Instagram post, Harris shared a very moving video that would inspire thousands of women. “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,” she said in the video.
8. Imposter syndrome
“You never have to ask anyone permission to lead,” Harris said to two young women at a rally in Iowa in 2020. “I want you to remember that, OK? When you want to lead, you lead.” In a separate Instagram post from a Black Lives Matter gathering, Harris shared a picture with a supporter along with the caption, “Never ask anyone’s permission to lead. Just lead.” While talking to a crowd at the Black Girls Lead 2020 conference, she said, echoing a similar sentiment, “There will be a resistance to your ambition, there will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane.’ “They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be – but don’t let that burden you.”
“Let’s speak the truth: people are protesting because Black people have been treated as less than human in America. Because our country has never fully addressed the systemic racism that has plagued our country since its earliest days. It is the duty of every American to fix. No longer can some wait on the sidelines, hoping for incremental change. In times like this, silence is complicity,” Harris wrote in an op-ed she wrote for Cosmopolitan.
In her first speech as Democratic nominee for Vice President, Harris said, per KOAT, “To everyone keeping up the fight, you are doing something. You are the reason I know we are going to bring our country closer to realizing its great promise. But to do it, we'll need to work, organize, and vote like never before because we need more than a victory on 3rd November. We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be.”
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