Headline, Politics, Road to the White House

Kamala Harris tells how her immigrant parents shaped her politics

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris; image via C-SPAN screen capture

“Her story is America’s story,” says Biden launching their historic run.

Rolling out her historic candidacy as America’s first Indian American African vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris wove in the narrative of her immigrant parents that has shaped her politics.

Making her first joint appearance with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, at a high school in Delaware, Wednesday, she recalled her Tamil Indian mother’s constant refrain to do something. “So I did something.”

“My mother and father, they came from opposite sides of the world to arrive in America, one from India and the other from Jamaica, in search of a world class education,” Harris said.

“But what brought them together was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s,” recalled the daughter of cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan and economics professor Donald Harris.

RELATED: Indian Americans welcome Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s VP pick (August 12, 2020)

“And that’s how they met, as students in the streets of Oakland marching and shouting for this thing called justice in a struggle that continues today,” said the senator from California.

“And I was part of it. My parents would bring me to protests strapped tightly in my stroller,” recalled Harris.

“And my mother, Shyamala, raised my sister Maya and me to believe that it was up to us and every generation of Americans to keep on marching.”

“She’d tell us, ‘Don’t sit around and complain about things. Do something.’”

“So I did something,” said Harris who in 2011 became California’s the first black woman and first Asian American attorney general.

“I devoted my life to making real the words carved in the United States Supreme Court: ‘Equal justice under law’”

RELATED: Indian American Senator Kamala Harris tops Biden’s VP list (July 29, 2020)

“And 30 years ago, I stood before a judge for the first time, breathed deep, and uttered the phrase that would truly guide my career and the rest of my career: Kamala Harris for the people.”

“This is a moment of real consequence for America,” she said turning to the 2020 presidential election. “Everything we care about — our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in — it’s all on the line.”

“We’re reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

“We’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country,” Harris said.

“America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a President who cares more about himself than the people who elected him,” said Harris.

“As someone who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.”

“But let’s be clear. This election isn’t just about defeating Donald Trump or Mike Pence,” Harris said vowing to “building this country back better.”

Earlier, introducing his running mate, Biden explained why he had chosen Harris, the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent on a major party’s presidential ticket.

As the child of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country,” Biden said, adding that “her story is America’s story.”

Trying to convince Americans that they are not better off than they were four years ago, he also tried to link Harris’ agenda to his own.

Biden took note of Harris’ efforts to help working families after the foreclosure crisis, when she took on the big banks, and her advocacy for “folks” who are looking for a “fair shot of making it.”

Referring to Trump’s calling her “nasty” shortly after Biden announced her as his running mate, the former Vice President said he was “whining.”

“Is anyone surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman? And we know that more is to come,” Biden said. He called on “working people” to defend his new partner.

“Kamala Harris has had your back — and now, we have to have her back,” he said. “She’s going to stand with me in this campaign, and all of us are going to stand up for her.”

As Harris looked on, Biden highlighting the historic nature of his pick imagined the reaction of “little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities.”

“Today, just maybe,” he said, “they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way.”


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