Harris, 'proud' of Indian heritage, makes history as first Indian American candidate for VP

Saying she was "proud of our Indian heritage", Kamala Harris made history by accepting the nomination to be the Democratic Party's vice-presidential candidate and thus becoming the first Indian American to be a "heartbeat away" from the presidency

Arul Louis Aug 20, 2020
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Saying she was "proud of our Indian heritage", Kamala Harris made history by accepting the nomination to be the Democratic Party's vice-presidential candidate and thus becoming the first Indian American to be a "heartbeat away" from the presidency. 

Harris said on Wednesday that when she gave birth to her, her mother Shyamala Gopalan, who came from Chennai to California, "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'.”

“I do so, committed to the values she taught me,” she declared.

Harris became the first Indian American and African American to become a major party's candidate for vice-president when Bennie Thompson, the chair of the Democratic National Convention, declared her unanimously nomination

After listing the leaders who paved her way for her to the nomination, she said, “There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother – Shyamala Gopalan Harris.”

Her mother raised her and her sister Maya “to know and be proud of our Indian heritage” while also “to be proud, strong Black women,” she said.

A video tracing her way to the nomination included pictures of her and her mother.

Her sister Maya Harris, her niece Meena Harris and her step-daughter jointly introduced her a protective big sister, an aunt who is a role model and a loving “Momala.”

The convention was held virtually depriving the excitement and the celebration of nomination. To make up for it, clips cheering supporters from around the country were projected to a large screen in the background and Harris waved to the screen as she would have done if the convention had been held with thousands screaming their adulation.

The convention brought out a line-up of political stars to speak at the session.

Before her nomination, in the midst of proclaiming a long chargesheet against Trump, the speakers – leaders and party supporters – praised Harris.

Speaking from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia with the Constitution as the backdrop, former President Barack Obama endorsed Harris as a leader “who’s more than prepared for the job; someone who knows what it’s like to overcome barriers and who’s made a career fighting to help others live out their own American dream.”

Recalling her own experience of facing unrelenting personal attacks as the first woman to be a major party's presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton said Harris is strong enough to stand up to them.

She said, “I know a thing or two about the slings and arrows coming her way. Kamala can handle them all.”

Clinton called Shyamala Gopalan “an extraordinary mother” and said, “Tonight I am thinking of the girls and boys who see themselves in America’s future because of Kamala Harris – a Black woman, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, and our nominee for Vice President of the United States. This is our country’s story: breaking down barriers and expanding the circle of possibility.”

Harris is the “witness to the women of this nation that their voices will be heard,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Harris is the vice president we need right now – committed to our Constitution, brilliant in defending it.”

Harris is the third woman to be nominated by a major party for vice president – after Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008.

Speaker after speaker, and video presentations, accused Trump of failing to act on climate change, being responsible for the deaths of more than 170,000 people in America by mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic, causing an economic meltdown, splitting families by deporting illegal immigrants, putting down protests, being indifferent to domestic violence and fomenting hate and division.

They extolled the capabilities of Biden to undo what they said were catastrophic failures of Trump.