US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has told Americans that they have assured a new day for America by electing Joe Biden as their President, as she delivered a historic speech after they won the closely-fought presidential election.
Now that the people of the country have given their mandate for the next four years, the real work begins, Indian-origin Harris, 56, said in her victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday night.
“No matter who you voted for, I will strive to be the Vice President that Joe was to (former) president (Barack) Obama — loyal, honest and prepared, waking up every day thinking of you and your families. Because now is when the real work begins. You assured a new day for America,” Harris said in a powerful, but emotional speech.
Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and African-American father from Jamaica, said that while she may be the first woman in this office, she would not be the last.
“We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey,” she said.
“And 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.
“So, I'm thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black Women,” Harris, the first-ever woman vice president-elect of the United States, said.
“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.
Reflecting on their struggle, determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been, Harris said that she stands by them.
“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.
“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 yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they've never seen it before, and we will applaud you every step of the way,” Harris said.
She said that the real work now begins.
“The hard work. The necessary work. The good work. The essential work to save lives and beat this pandemic. To rebuild our economy so it works for working people. To root out systematic racism in our justice system and society. To combat the climate crisis. To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation,” she said.
The road ahead will not be easy, Harris acknowledged.
“But America is ready. And so are Joe and I. We have elected a president who represents the best in us. A leader the world will respect and our children can look up to. A commander in chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe. And a President for all Americans,” she said.
Harris recollected the words of the late Congresswoman John Lewis, who said “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” And what he meant was that America's democracy is not guaranteed, she said.
“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. There is joy in it and there is progress. Because, ‘We The People' have the power to build a better future,” Harris said.
“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,” Harris said as she thanked the American people who turning out in record numbers to make their voices heard.
“I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months. The grief, sorrow and pain. The worries and the struggles. But we've also witnessed your courage, your resilience and the generosity of your spirit. For four years, you marched and organised for equality and justice, for our lives and for our planet,” she said.
She said that by voting, Americans delivered a clear message that they chose hope, unity, decency, science, and truth.
“You chose Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America. Joe is a healer, uniter, 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 added.