Ambition, leadership, race and women empowerment… Words of wisdom from Kamala Harris
“What a testament it is to Joe’s character that he had the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country and select a woman as his vice president. But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Kamala Harris shared these inspiring words only last week, as she stepped on to the stage last Saturday to celebrate Joe Biden’s victory at the US elections. She too was making history of course as the first woman and the first woman of colour to be elected Vice-President of America.
Being a trailblazer isn’t new for Harris either as, in 2017, she became the first South Asian-American senator in US history, and the second African-American woman elected to the senate. Neither is sharing inspirational words of wisdom, so what better to celebrate this inspirational woman than sharing some her most inspiring quotes from throughout her trailblazing career.
On being the first
My mother used to tell me – she would tell my sister – my mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’ And that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”
Lecture at Spelman College, 2018
On speaking up
What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters. You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you applauding you on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.
(Marie Claire interview)
There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane.’ They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t you let that burden you.
(2020 Black Girls Lead conference)
On impostor syndrome
You never have to ask anyone permission to lead. I want you to remember that, OK? When you want to lead, you lead.
(Speaking to two young women outside a rally in Iowa)
On Her Parents’ Influence
My parents would bring me to protests strapped tightly in my stroller, and my mother, Shyamala, raised my sister, Maya, and me to believe that it was up to us and every generation of Americans to keep on marching. She’d tell us ‘Don’t sit around and complain about things; do something.’ So I did something. I devoted my life to making real the words carved in the United States Supreme Court: Equal justice under law.
(First campaign appearance as the Democratic nominee for vice president)
On human empathy
You have to see and smell and feel the circumstances of people to really understand them.
(CBS News, 2012)
On Empowering Women
Here’s the truth people need to understand: To tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century, we must empower women and families. If we do not lift up women and families, everyone will fall short.
(National Partnership for Women and Families Gala, June 15, 2017)
On Race and Racism
“Let’s speak the truth: People are protesting because Black people have been treated as less than human in America. Because our country has never fully addressed the systemic racism that has plagued our country since its earliest days, it is the duty of every American to fix. No longer can some wait on the sidelines, hoping for incremental change. In times like this, silence is complicity.
(Op-ed for Cosmopolitan)
A patriot is not someone who condones the conduct of our country whatever it does. It is someone who fights every day for the ideals of the country, whatever it takes.
(The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, published January 8, 2019)