Kamala Harris Says 'I May Be the First Woman to Hold This Office but I Won't Be the Last' in Victory Speech

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stressed unity in her victory speech on Saturday night.

Harris, who wore a white suit in tribute to the suffragette uniform, spoke outside Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, and made remarks before introducing President-elect Joe Biden.

"Congressman John Lewis, before his passing wrote 'Democracy is not a state. It is an act.' And what he meant was that America's democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it. To guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress. Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future," the California senator, 56, began. "And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election — with the very soul of America at stake and the world watching — you ushered in a new day for America. To our campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team, thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process."

Harris thanked the poll workers and election officials throughout the country who "tirelessly" worked to assure that all votes were counted on and after Election Day. "Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude. You have protected the integrity of our democracy," she said. "And to the American people who make up our beautiful country, thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard. And I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months."

Harris continued, "The grief, sorrow, and pain, the worries and the struggles, but we have also witnessed your courage, your resilience and the generosity of your spirit. For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives and for our planet and then you voted! And you delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth! You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America!"

Further praising Biden, Harris called him a "healer, uniter, a tested and steady hand."

"A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose. And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon," she said. "It's his love for Jill, who will be an incredible first lady. It's his love for Hunter and Ashley and his grandchildren and the entire Biden family. And while I first knew Joe as vice president, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau, my dear friend who we remember here today."

Then, Harris thanked her own family, including her husband Doug Emhoff. "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. We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey," she said.

Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, the daughter of immigrant parents. Her mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher, came to the United States from India while her father, Donald Harris, an economist, was born in Jamaica.

"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, she maybe didn't quite imagine this moment," the vice president-elect said, speaking of her mother in her speech. "But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation's history, who paved the way to tonight, women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy."

Harris served as the San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011 and went on to become the first Black woman to be elected as California attorney general, holding office from 2011 until 2017, when she was elected to the Senate.

"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. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been," Harris said in her speech. "And I stand on their shoulders. And 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."

Last year, Harris ran her own campaign for Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out of the primaries in December. Then, she endorsed Biden in March, once there were no more women in the running — and was named as his vice presidential pick in August.

"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. 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. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way," Harris said in her speech.

To conclude her speech, Harris spoke about getting to work as soon as possible, specifically to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"And to the American people, no matter who you voted for, I will strive to be a vice president like Joe was to President Obama: loyal, honest, and prepared; waking up every day thinking of you and your family, because now is when the real work begins, the hard work, the necessary work, the good work, the essential work to save lives and beat this epidemic," she said.

"To rebuild our economy so it works for working people, to root out systemic racism in our justice system and society. To combat the climate crisis, to unite our country and heal the soul of our nation. And the road ahead will not be easy. But America is ready. And so are Joe and I," she added. "We have elected a president who represents the best in us, a leader the world will respect and our children will look up to. A commander in chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe and a president for all Americans."

On Saturday, the Associated Press had projected Biden won 290 electoral votes to Trump's 214 — above the 270-vote threshold — including the swing states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with additional leads in Georgia and Nevada.

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