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‘I will not be the last’: Harris pays tribute to women

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Washington: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has paid tribute to the women, particularly black women, whose shoulders she stands on as she shatters barriers that have kept mostly white men entrenched at the highest levels of American politics for more than two centuries.

"Tonight I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been," Harris said, wearing a white suit in tribute to women's suffrage.

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks while delivering an address to the nation in Wilmington, Delaware.Credit:Bloomberg

Echoing Obama's language, Harris called it a testament to President-elect Joe Biden'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."

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said in her first post-election address to the nation.

The 56-year-old California Senator, also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, represents the multiculturalism that defines America but is largely absent from Washington's power centres.

Her identity has allowed her to speak in personal terms in a year of reckoning over police brutality and systemic racism. As the highest-ranking woman ever elected in American government, her victory gives hope to women who were devastated by Hillary Clinton's defeat four years ago.

Harris told little children to "dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they're never seen it before".

After Biden's speech, she was joined on stage by her family, including her two grand nieces who wore white dresses.

Kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower," and Harris gave nods to her Indian heritage throughout the campaign, including with a callout to her “chitthis,” a Tamil word for a maternal aunt, in her first speech as Biden’s running mate.

A rising star in Democratic politics for much of the last two decades, Harris served as San Francisco's district attorney and California's attorney-general before becoming a senator. After she ended her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, Joe Biden tapped her as his running mate. They will be sworn in as president and vice-president on January 20.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.Credit:AP

Harris' mother raised her daughters with the understanding the world would see them as black women, Harris has said, and that is how she describes herself today.

Her victory could usher more black women and people of colour into politics.

Harris is married to a Jewish man, Doug Emhoff, whose children from a previous marriage call her “Momala.” The excitement about her candidacy extends to women across races.


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