United States Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Saturday said that she may be the first woman to occupy the second-highest office in the country but will not be the last.
Harris and President-elect Joe Biden addressed their supporters in Wilmington, Delaware after media projections showed them winning the widely-watched election.
The Democrat leader paid a tribute to her mother and women from varying ethnicities in her victory speech. “When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said. “But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
Harris praised women for making huge sacrifices for democratic values. “And so, I’m thinking about her [Harris’ mother] and about the generations of women Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight,” she said. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
Harris gave a shout-out to Biden for having the “audacity” to select a woman as his vice-president. “But 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,” Harris added.
“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.”— Kamala Harris
Harris will also be the first person of Black and Indian heritage to occupy the vice-president’s post.
Biden, meanwhile, said that Harris’ appointment to the vice-president’s post was long overdue. “I will be honoured to be serving with a fantastic vice president who will make history as the first woman, first Black woman, first woman of South Asian descent, and first daughter of immigrants ever elected to national office in this country,” he said.
A presidential candidate needed 270 electoral votes to win. Biden led the race since Tuesday, with the gap between him and Trump slowly widening over the last five days. On Saturday, the crucial state of Pennsylvania was called for him, putting him on track to win the elections. Biden now has 290 votes, while Trump had 214, according to AP’s projection.
Indian-American community celebrates ‘historic victory’
Members of the Indian-American community celebrated Harris’ historic victory in the presidential election. They said that Harris had set an example for future generations.
“I never dreamed that this day will come,” Swadesh Chatterjee, a Padma Bhushan winner, told PTI. “It is just unbelievable to see a woman of colour, of Indian origin become the Vice President of this country, something which has created examples for my grandchildren, and for the generations to come.”
Silicon Valley-based philanthropist and entrepreneur M Rangaswami said that he has known Harris for more than a decade. “She is a dynamic young leader who quickly became the Attorney General of California,” he said. “She made a mark in that position and then moved up to represent all Californians as our Senator.”
Rangaswami added that like Harris’ mother, he also belonged to Chennai. “We wish her all the best as she assumes the second most important job in the land.”
Celebrations at Harris’ native village
The residents of Thulasendrapuram in Tamil Nadu, which is Harris’ native village, distributed sweets and made ‘rangoli’ to celebrate her victory, ANI reported. They also put up her posters at several places.
Harris’ uncle Gopalan Balachandran, who lives in Delhi, said he will fly to the US in January to attend the swearing-in ceremony, The Indian Express reported.
“I am very proud of Kamala, I will call and congratulate her soon,” he told the newspaper. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the news came out. “My daughter is already there [in the US], helping Kamala with her campaign. All of us will fly down… I wouldn’t miss it [the ceremony] for anything.”