Democrats on Wednesday chose Sen. Kamala D. Harris to be the party’s 2020 vice presidential nominee, officially making Ms. Harris the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket.
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Harris said President Trump’s failure of leadership has cost the U.S. lives and livelihoods and decried “structural racism” that she said is causing the coronavirus pandemic to fall disproportionately on minorities.
Ms. Harris, a 55-year-old former attorney general of California, was born in Oakland to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother.
She devoted a good deal of her acceptance speech to her late mother, Shyamala.
“She 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,” Ms. Harris said in a speech from Wilmington, Delaware.
She said her mother raised her and her sister, Maya, “to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
She said Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden shares a vision of a United States where people are “united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect.”
“A country where we look out for one another, where we rise and fall as one, where we face our challenges, and celebrate our triumphs - together,” she said. “Today, that country feels distant. Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods.”“I know a predator when I see one,” she said, employing a similar turn of phrase that she used to describe Mr. Trump when she was on the presidential campaign trail seeking the Democratic nomination.
She said that while the coronavirus affects everyone, Black, Latino and Indigenous people are “suffering and dying disproportionately.”
“This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism,” she said. “Let’s be clear - there is no vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work.”
She said Mr. Trump “turns our tragedies into political weapons.”
“Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said.
Ms. Harris praised Mr. Biden as a family man, saying she got to know him when his late son Beau was Delaware’s attorney general.
She also touted his support for a ban on semiautomatic weapons that expired in 2004 and praised Mr. Biden for backing Obamacare after she had equivocated multiple times on universal health care policies during the Democratic presidential primary contest.
Mr. Biden came out on the stage after Ms. Harris’s speech and kept a socially-distant space between the two of them.
Ms. Harris’s husband Doug and Mr. Biden’s wife Jill eventually came out as well.
The room had state delegation signs traditionally seen on party convention floors placed around the room, which was scattered with reporters.
Ms. Harris’s sister Maya, niece Meena and stepdaughter Ella Emhoff delivered speeches on her behalf in a video.
Former President Barack Obama said earlier that Ms. Harris is an “ideal partner” for Mr. Biden.
Mr. Obama said Ms. Harris is “more than prepared for the job” and “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.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nominee, gave Ms. Harris a shout-out earlier in the evening, saying she’s “relentless in the pursuit of justice and equity” and that she’ll be able to take on incoming fire.
“Tonight, I’m thinking of the girls and boys who see themselves in America’s future because of Kamala Harris,” Mrs. Clinton said.