Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said she stood on the shoulders of all the women who fought for women’s suffrage before her on the day she and President-elect Joe Biden celebrated their victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Harris made history on Saturday when she became the first woman elected to serve as Vice President. She spoke for the first time on Saturday night as elected vice president in Wilmington, Delaware, while wearing a white pantsuit – an outfit that has become synonymous with the women’s suffrage movement and that Hillary Clinton wore when she accepted her Democratic nomination in 2016 and when Donald Trump took office in 2017.
Clinton’s supporters, after her loss, also decided to wear white suits, and many female Democrats wore white at the State of the Union 2019 State of the Union address, although they urged their Republican counterparts to do the same.
White became synonymous with the women’s suffrage movement in the 1900s and marched into the 21st century as a symbol of women’s continued struggle for equal rights and equal representation.
Harris paid tribute to her mother, Biden’s wife Jill Biden, and the “generations of women, Black women, Asian women, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout the history of our nation have paved the way for this moment tonight” during the speech she gave before bringing Biden on stage.
Harris pointed out the women “who have fought and sacrificed so much for equality, freedom and justice for all, including black women who are all too often overlooked but who so often prove to be the backbone of our democracy.
Harris also nodded to those who fought for women’s suffrage in 1920 with the successful passage of the 19th Amendment, those who fought against racial discrimination in voting in 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and the “new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard” that year.
“Tonight I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what is possible, unencumbered by what has been,” Harris said. “And I stand on her shoulders.
“And what a testament to Joe’s character is that he had the audacity to break one of the most fundamental barriers that exists in our country and elect a woman as his vice president.
Aside from breaking the gender barrier for the vice presidency, Harris also made history as the first black American and the first South American to be elected to this office. In her speech, she recognized the achievements by mentioning the 19th Amendment and the Electoral Code-and while celebrating the country’s historic race, she also had a message for girls and women seeking a career in politics.
“I may be the first woman in this office, but I will not be the last,” Harris said. “Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a land of opportunity. And to the children of our country – regardless of your gender – our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others may not see you simply because they have never seen you before. And we will applaud you every step of the way”.
The Associated Press and several major broadcasters proclaimed the race for Biden on Saturday after declaring a victory for him in Pennsylvania, a state with 20 votes that gave Biden the 270 votes needed to secure the presidency. The calls came after several days in which no clear winner was announced, as election officials in the major swing states continued to count the ballots. Despite the consensus on Biden’s victory, Trump has not yet given up the race.
Washington Newsday asked Trump’s campaign for comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
This story has been updated with additional information and background.