First Indian American and African American to hold nation’s second highest office creates history yet again
Vice President Kamala Harris has created history again by becoming the first woman to deliver a commencement address at the graduation ceremony at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York on Saturday.
In the history-making speech, Harris, the first Indian American and the first African American woman to hold the nation’s second highest office, discussed themes of global security and prosperity, arguing that America’s democratic ideals “inspire billions.”
“In the face of all these challenges, America plays a singular role of leadership,” the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father told the graduates.
“Cadets, global security and global prosperity depend on the leadership of the United States of America. And a strong America remains indispensable to the world,” she said.
Warning graduates they were living in “an increasingly unsettled world where long standing principles are at risk, Harris called Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “an attack on international rules and norms that have served as the foundation of international security and prosperity for generations.”
She also slammed China for “modernizing its military and threatening both the freedom of the seas and rules of international commerce.”
“To the Class of 2023: You join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen,” Harris said. “And in years to come, I promise you, you will be tried, and you will be tested.”
“And I am so very confident that you will rise to each occasion. Whatever comes your way. You are ready. And you are ready because you are true leaders of character.”
Harris previously made history in 2021 as the first woman to give a commencement address at the US Naval Academy. Last year, she spoke at the US Coast Guard Academy’s graduation ceremony.
Women weren’t allowed to enroll at West Point until 1976, “a year after Congress passed legislation that allowed women to enroll at the federal service academies,” according to an NPR report.
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In 1980, Andrea Hollen became the first of 62 pioneering women to graduate from West Point. Since then, more than 5,000 women have graduated from the military academy.”
It is unclear how many Indian Americans or South Asian Americans were in this year’s graduating class. In 2020, Anmol Narang became the first observant Sikh woman to graduate from West Point, although she’s not the first Sikh cadet to graduate from there.