‘We Are Undaunted.’ Kamala Harris Sounds a Note of Optimism in Her First Speech as Vice President
Kamala Harris called on Americans to “believe in what we can do together” in her first speech as Vice President of the United States.
In short remarks during the live Inauguration Day broadcast Wednesday night, she sounded a note of optimism as the U.S. faces the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, an economic downturn, racial injustice and political division that sparked recent violence in the U.S. Capitol.
“We not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be,” Harris said, of Americans. “We shoot for the moon and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious.”
She added: “We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.”
Harris, formerly a U.S. Senator from California, broke barriers when she was sworn in earlier Wednesday: The first woman Vice President, the first Black Vice President and the first South Asian Vice President.
She opened her speech with a nod to the historic moment: “It is my honor to be here, to stand on the shoulders of those who came before, to speak tonight as your Vice President.”
Harris struck a similar tone as her running-mate. President Biden, in his speech shortly after being sworn in, urged Americans to “end this uncivil war” that has pitted the country against itself. He pledged to “fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
One of Harris’ first duties was to swear in three new Senators: Alex Padilla, who is taking Harris’ seat in the Senate, and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Democrats who won Senate runoff races in Georgia earlier this month. The action effectively gives Democrats control of the Senate—the chamber is divided 50-50, but Harris will cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Read the full transcript of Vice President Harris’ speech below:
“Good evening. It is my honor to be here, to stand on the shoulders of those who came before, to speak tonight as your Vice President.
In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.
This is American aspiration. In the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln saw a better future and built it with land grant colleges and the transcontinental railroad. In the middle of the civil rights movement Dr. King fought for racial justice and economic justice.
American aspiration is what drove the women of this nation throughout history to demand equal rights and the authors of the Bill of Rights to claim freedoms that had rarely been written down before. A great experiment takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting.
The same determination is being realized in America today. I see it in the scientists who are transforming the future. I see it in the parents who are nurturing generations to come, in the innovators and the educators, in everyone everywhere who is building a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
This, too, is American aspiration. This is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now. The courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good, to unite, to believe in ourselves, believe in our country, believe in what we can do together.
Thank you and may God bless America.”