12 August 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, appeared together for the first time Wednesday. The two held a campaign event in the northeastern state of Delaware.
The former vice president introduced Harris as a smart, tough and experience person who is, in his words, "ready to do this job on day one." He called her life story "America's story."
Biden went on to say, "And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they're seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents."
There was no crowd. There were no cheers. The two Democrats stood several meters away from each other in a nearly empty high school gymnasium.
When it was her turn to speak, Harris thanked "all the ambitious women before me, whose sacrifice, determination and resilience makes my presence here today even possible."
Harris criticized President Donald Trump. She said the United States leads the world with more than 5 million coronavirus cases "because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start."
She criticized: "His refusal to get testing up and running, his flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks. His delusional belief that he knows better than the experts. All of that is reason and the reason that an American dies of Covid-19 every 80 seconds."
Harris makes history as the first Black woman and first person of Asian ancestry to be the nominee for vice president of a major party. She talked about how her parents met while protesting for civil rights in the 1960s.
"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. But what brought them together was the civil rights movement of the 1960s," she said.
She added: They met "marching and shouting for this thing called justice in a struggle that continues today."
Harris's parents ended their marriage when she was seven. As a child, she went to both Black and Hindu religious centers. Harris said her mother knew Americans would consider her and her sister as Black girls. She wrote in her autobiography, "she [her mother] was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women."
Melanie Campbell is head of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. She said she wished her late mother could have lived to see the historic moment.
Campbell said. "This moment is more than about the VP slot. It affirms Black women and all we did for this country."
In a speech in 2018, Harris recalled visits to her grandparents near the Bay of Bengal in southern India. "I was not conscious of it at the time, but it was those walks on the beach with my grandfather in Besant Nagar that had a profound impact on who I am today," Harris said.
Her grandfather was among those who worked for India's independence. He later became a high-ranking government official.
Her uncle Gopalan Balachandran told reporters outside his New Delhi home, "I knew she was quite ambitious in the sense that she always wanted to run for public office..."
On social media, users joked about how Indian parents in the United States will now push their children to aim even higher. One wrote, "Beta (son) what are you doing these days? Oh, just a Harvard professor? Not even a mayor yet?"
I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do wrote this story for VOA Learning English with reporting from VOA, Asssociated Press and Reuters. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
ambitious –adj. having great desire to succeed
resilience –n. the ability to recover from something bad that happens
delusional –adj. believing in things that are not true
confident –adj. believing you can do something well
conscious –adj. awake and able to understand what is happening
impact –n. an strong or notable influence
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