U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., accepted the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nomination Wednesday night as she pulled from the New Testament in her speech on the third night of the Democratic National Convention.
Harris stepped onto a stage at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware and became the first black woman and Asian-American to run on a major United States political party presidential ticket.
To introduce herself to the country, the early parts of her speech were focused on her background before she went on to criticize the current administration and voice concern about the direction of the country.
She briefly invoked Scripture when mentioning the values instilled in her by her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
Quoting from 2 Corinthians 5:7, Harris professed her commitment “to the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight.”
The 55-year-old explained that her mother taught her that service to others “gives life purpose and meaning.”
“And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she's looking down on me from above,” the senator and former California attorney general, explained. “I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of five feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California.”
Harris declared that her mother probably would never have imagined that her daughter would one day accept the Democrat Party’s nomination for vice president of the United States.
“I do so, committed to the values she taught me. To the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight,” she stressed. “And to a vision passed on through generations of Americans — one that Joe Biden shares.”
The nominee said that the “vision” is a desire to see “our nation as a Beloved Community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.” The idea of the “beloved community” is one that was made popular by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A country where we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity and respect,” Harris said.
This was not the first time that Harris has spoken about how the Bible influences her politics.
Last year, as she was campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Harris discussed the influence the parable of the Good Samaritan has had on her policy views.
“I often think of the parable of the Good Samaritan because what the teachings are there from the book of Luke, it is about how do we define neighbor,” she said at a June 2019 gathering of left-leaning clergy and activists in Washington D.C.
“Everyone knows [we need to] live and treat our neighbor as we would want to be treated,” Harris added. “But what I like about the parable of the Good Samaritan is that it’s about defining who is neighbor and understanding that neighbor is not about the person who shares your zip code.”
Harris’ quick Bible reference in her convention speech, as brief as it was, came as speakers reportedly omitted the phrase “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance during at least two public meetings held earlier this week during the convention.
The Democratic vice-presidential nominee began her acceptance speech by noting that “this week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment,” which gave women the right to vote.
Harris mentioned her background and upbringing, specifically highlighting the fact that she was the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.
She explained the influence that her late mother had on her career path. She said it was her mother’s belief that “public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is a shared responsibility” that inspired her to become a lawyer.
Harris went on to become a district attorney and California attorney general.
“And at every step of the way, I’ve been guided by the words I spoke from the first time I stood in a courtroom: Kamala Harris, For the People,” she added.
As Harris has received some criticism over her record as a prosecuting attorney, she defended her legal career by saying that she has fought for children and survivors of sexual assault.
“I've fought against transnational gangs. I took on the biggest banks, and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges,” she stated. “I know a predator when I see one.”
While Harris did not mention him by name, Harris has faced criticism for her prosecution of David Daleiden, a pro-life citizen journalist who works for the nonprofit organization Center for Medical Progress.
Daleiden and his associate Sandra Merritt released a series of undercover videos documenting meetings with Planned Parenthood officials. The videos purportedly show Planned Parenthood officials casually admitting that they can sell the body parts of aborted babies for profit.
Rather than prosecute Planned Parenthood, Harris, the then-California attorney general, prosecuted Daleiden.
Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress have faced years of legal troubles. In May, Daleiden filed a lawsuit against Harris and others this year, citing a “brazen, unprecedented, and ongoing conspiracy to selectively use California’s video recording laws as a political weapon to silence disfavored speech.”
Harris also used her convention platform to take multiple shots at the current occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris argued.
Harris specifically took issue with the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
As she spoke about coronavirus, she explained that the virus was “not an equal opportunity offender.”
“Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately,” she said. “This is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism.”
Harris spent the latter half of her speech discussing her relationship with the man at the top of the Democratic ticket this fall, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
She looked back on her relationship with Biden’s late son Beau, who served as the attorney general of Delaware while she held the same position in California.
After running through Biden’s record as a senator from Delaware and vice president under President Barack Obama, Harris explained her vision for a Biden presidency.
“Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said.
Harris vowed that Biden will “bring us together to build an economy that doesn’t leave anyone behind” and help the U.S. “squarely face and dismantle racial injustice.”
“Joe and I believe that we can build that Beloved Community, one that is strong and decent, just and kind,” she stressed.