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Kamala Harris details being raised by a single mom, importance of family in DNC speech

"There’s another woman whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared, another woman whose shoulders I stand on," Harris said.
/ Source: TODAY

In Kamala Harris' speech on the third night of the DNC, she accepted her Democratic nomination for vice president and shared her hopes for this election.

The California senator, 55, whose father is from Jamaica and mother is from India, is the first woman of color to be on a major party's presidential ticket. Her mother in particular, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, featured heavily in her remarks.

After reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment this week, she spoke about "another woman whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared, another woman whose shoulders I stand on."

"(My mother) came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer," Harris said. "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 for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In the streets of Oakland and Berkley, 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," Harris continued. "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 it never was."

Harris also spoke about her racial identity and its role in her values.

"She raised us to be proud, strong Black women, and she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage," Harris said. "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 call me 'Momala.' Family is my sister. Family is my best friend, my nieces and my godchildren."

She also mentioned the death of her mother due to cancer in 2009 and the friends who got her through.

"Even as (my mother) 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."

Recalling how her mother influenced her journey to become a lawyer, attorney general and senator, she continued: "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 5 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."

Harris went on to state that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden shares her vision for America.

"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," she explained.

"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. A country where we look out for one another, where we rise and fall as one, where we face our challenges and celebrate our triumphs — together. Today, that country feels distant."

Harris also criticized President Donald Trump's leadership, calling him a "president who turns our tragedies into political weapons."

"Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods," she said. "We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more."

To conclude, she called the 2020 election "a chance to change the course of history" and returned to the theme of family.

"You, me and Joe — together. What an awesome responsibility. What an awesome privilege," she said. "Years from now, this moment will have passed, and our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? ... We will tell them not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did."