Kamala Harris remembers mother in maiden speech in Delaware

"My mother, Shyamala, she'd tell us, don't sit around and complain about things, do something"

Kamala Harris - The Federal
Kamala Harris. File Photo: PTI

Taking the center stage of American politics for the first time after becoming the presumptive vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic party, Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris remembered her mother Shyamala Gopalan, saying it was she who taught her not to sit and complain about things during the time of problem but do something to improve it.

Presumptive Democratic party presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday named 55-year-old Harris as his vice presidential running mate, making history by selecting the first black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Making her first appearance along with Biden in Wilmington in Delaware, Harris said her mother had a great role in her life. “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,” said Harris during her appearance in Wilmington, Delaware.

Harris, whose father is from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is currently the US Senator from California. “You know, 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, she said.

Harris mother Shyamala was a breast-cancer specialist who emigrated from Tamil Nadu in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at the University of California Berkeley. Father Donald J Harris, who migrated from British Jamaica in 1961, is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics.

“What brought them together was the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and that’s how they met as students in the streets of Oakland, marching and shouting for this thing called justice, in a struggle that continues today,” Harris said.

“And I was part of it. 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 said.

Inspired by her mother frequently telling her to do something, Harris said that she did 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.’ And 30 years ago, I stood before a judge for the first time, breathed deep, and uttered the phrase that would truly guide my career and the rest of my career, Kamala Harris for the people,” she said.

The people, that’s who I represented as district attorney, fighting on behalf of victims who needed help. The people, that’s who I fought for as California’s attorney general, when I took on transnational criminal organisations who traffic in guns and drugs and human beings,” Harris asserted.

Taking a jibe at President Donald Trump, Harris said she has worked to hold his officials accountable to the American people.

“And its the people who I have fought for as a United States Senator, where I’ve worked every day to hold Trump officials accountable to the American people. And the people are who Joe and I will fight for every day in the White House,” she said.

In her maiden speech, Harris also talked about her family. “I cannot wait for America to get to know my husband, Doug, and our amazing kids, Cole and Ella,” she said.