09th Nov 2020
It was the end to 2020 we so badly needed. A new reason for hope. For change. Joe Biden has quite a journey ahead, yet it is Kamala Harris, the California senator who will make history: the first woman, and person of colour, to be elected as vice-president of the United States. Already she is a natural leader. Here are some of her most inspiring words said so far, on ambition, inclusion and using your voice
On making your voice heard
One of the most iconic moments from the 2020 election campaign came during Harris’ debate with the current vice president Mike Pence when the latter tried to speak over one of Harris’ arguments.
“Mr vice president, I’m speaking. If you don’t mind letting me finish, then we can have a conversation.”
On Black Lives Matter
“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,” she told Cosmopolitan.
On striving for first place
“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 a speech at Spelman College in 2018. “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.”
On Speaking Up
“What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters,” She 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 on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.”
“Don’t give up – our country needs you now more than ever. This is a pivotal moment in the history of our country: Our ideals are at stake, and we all have to fight for who we are. We are all, and should be treated as, equals, but the disparity in terms of income and inequality, for women and women of colour, is significant.”
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“There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’” Harris said during the 2020 Black Girls Lead conference. “They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t you let that burden you.”
On Imposter Syndrome
“You never have to ask anyone permission to lead. I want you to remember that, OK? When you want to lead, you lead.”
“Anyone who claims to be a leader must speak like a leader. That means speaking with integrity and truth.”
On 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. 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 had the audacity 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.”
On the right to choose
“I will fight every day for a woman to make the decision for herself, which means I will respect any woman who decides that is not the decision she wants to make, that she wants to make a different decision, but we have got to respect women in this country.”
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