Kamala Harris


Vice President Elect

Speech to the DNC

August 20, 2020

Greetings America.

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.

But they were undeterred.

Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought—not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. 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.

And these women inspired us to pick up the torch, and fight on.

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.

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. Like so many mothers, she worked around the clock to make it work—packing lunches before we woke up— and paying bills after we went to bed. Helping us with homework at the kitchen table—and shuttling us to church for choir practice.

She made it look easy, though I know it never was.

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.

She taught us to put family first—the family you’re born into and the family you choose.

Family, is my husband Doug, who I met on a blind date set up by my best friend. Family is our beautiful children, Cole and Ella, who as you just heard, call me Momala. Family is my sister. Family is my best friend, my nieces and my godchildren. Family is my uncles, my aunts—my chitthis. Family is Mrs. Shelton—my second mother who lived two doors down and helped raise me. Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha…our Divine 9…and my HBCU brothers and sisters. Family is the friends I turned to when my mother—the most important person in my life—passed away from cancer.

And even as she taught us to keep our family at the center of our world, she also pushed us to see a world beyond ourselves.

She taught us to be conscious and compassionate about the struggles of all people. To believe public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is a shared responsibility.

That led me to become a lawyer, a District Attorney, Attorney General, and a United States Senator.

And at every step of the way, I’ve been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, For the People.

I’ve fought for children, and survivors of sexual assault. I’ve fought against transnational gangs. I took on the biggest banks, and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges.

I know a predator when I see one.

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.

I do so, committed to the values she taught me. To the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight. And to a vision passed on through generations of Americans—one that Joe Biden shares. A vision of our nation as a Beloved Community—where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.

A country where we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect.

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