“I may be the first woman in this office. But I won’t be the last.”
First female vice president of the US
Harris’ portrait in the Fearless Portrait project consists of an ink drawing of her giving her victory speech, on a map of the United States.
Following days of election drama, on Saturday, November 7, all the major news outlets called the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden. That evening, in front of a socially distant crowd in Wilmington, DE, and the millions more watching at home around the country, Biden and Harris gave their victory speeches as president- and vice president-elect.
Wearing an all-white pantsuit—a tribute to the suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote—Harris confidently strode onto the outdoor stage. She celebrated Biden’s “audacity” for selecting a woman as his vice president.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” she vowed. “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,” she continued.
As the first female, black person, and Asian-American to be elected VP, Harris closed her speech with a brief vision of the next four years, saying,
“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 essential work to save lives and beat this epidemic. To rebuild our economy so it works for working people. To root out systemic racism in our social justice system and society. To combat the climate crisis. To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation.”
Background on Kamala Harris
Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, CA. A child of immigrants—her mother from India and her father from Jamaica—Harris is well familiar with the struggles of minorities in the US. While campaigning for president, Harris often spoke of her childhood attending civil rights marches with her parents.
As a child, she was bused across town to public school in a more prosperous neighborhood as part of Berkeley, CA’s desegregation program. She told of how children in her father’s Palo Alto neighborhood were not allowed to play with her because she was black.
She spent most of her career as a prosecutor, working up to District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004 and then California Attorney General in 2011. She entered the US Senate as California’s junior senator in 2017. She ran for president, but withdrew before the 2020 primaries and endorsing Biden. In August, Biden announced Harris would be his running mate.
Aside from the first black person, and first Indian American, she was only the third woman to be picked as the VP candidate for a major party ticket. She’s the second ever person of color to hold the office, after Charles Curtis, a Native American, served under Herbert Hoover in 1929. During the presidential campaign, she acknowledged the historic nature of her candidacy, saying in one interview:
“It really does help to have examples of what can be done and role models, things you can point to, to make it clear that it’s not impossible—and that, in fact, it’s quite probable that you can do these things and will do those things.”
Music comes from Geovane Bruno, Philip Phile’s “Hail Columbia” performed by the US Coast Guard Band, and John Philip Sousa’s “Starts and Stripes Forever,” performed by the US Navy Band.
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- Grady, C. (2020, November 8). Kamala Harris speech: “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.” Vox. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21554699/kamala-harris-victory-acceptance-speech
- Kamala Harris and Padma Lakshmi on Representation. (2020, October 28). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHG-8YNM-8s
- News18. (2020, November 8). 10 Things to Know About America’s Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris - In Pics. https://www.news18.com/photogallery/world/10-things-to-know-about-americas-vice-president-elect-kamal-harris-in-pics-3055745-6.html
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- Snyder, T. (2020, November 8). Biden and Harris address the nation, basking in victory and pledging to work for unity. POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/07/biden-harris-victory-speech-2020-435000
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021, November 28). Kamala Harris. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamala_Harris#Early_career_(1990%E2%80%932004)
- Zhou, L. (2020, November 7). Election results: Kamala Harris is elected the first woman vice president. Vox. https://www.vox.com/21547999/kamala-harris-first-woman-vice-president-black