Then-California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. As the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Harris is the first Black woman on a presidential ticket. (Los Angeles Times)
La Cañada High School

Opinion: The DNC shows women at the center of the party’s platform

Joe Biden, the traditional straight white male candidate, has made attempts to reach out to women throughout his campaign. He promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court and to choose a woman as his VP, eventually selecting Kamala Harris who could become the first Black American as well as Asian woman to become the Vice President of the United States. 

The four nights of the DNC reflected a similar commitment to centering women in the campaign. Even just the hosts of the virtual event were four actresses: Alyssa Milano, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. More importantly, many of the keynote speeches that defined the convention were delivered by notable women. 

On the first night, Michelle Obama finished the event with a speech that more than doubled in length that of the other major speakers, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Cuomo. 

Michelle Obama presented herself in a similar light to how the public already knows her. 

“You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation,” she said in her speech. “You know how much I care about all of our children.”

Not only is she one of the most admired women by the world and the Democratic party in particular, but Michelle Obama is also a mother and powerful woman who spoke to other female voters in her keynote speech. She started the speech talking about the American dream and how parents struggle and make sacrifices for their children. She then went on to, from a personal point of view, address the importance of the presidency and rebuke the political apathy and subsequent results of the 2016 election.

Finally, she compared the nostalgic America under then-President Barack Obama contrasted to Trump’s presidency and offered a final call to action for voters in 2020. Ending the first night with an impassioned speech by Michelle Obama set up the rest of the convention as one that centered strong women. 

On the second night, Jill Biden delivered the keynote speech at the end of the event. Jill Biden offered her own testimony to Biden’s character and sympathized with Americans’ struggle.

She first discussed the struggles of parents and teachers with distance learning, frontline workers, and people experiencing food insecurity amid the pandemic. 

Jill Biden said in reference to her husband Joe Biden’s character that, “his faith is unshakeable.” 

On the third night, Kamala Harris officially accepted the nomination as the Vice Presidential candidate. Before she delivered her speech, Harris’ sister, niece, and step-daughter delivered messages of support. 

“Now that I’m a mom, you’re showing my daughters and so many girls around the world who look like them what’s possible and what it’s like to move through the world as fierce, formidable, phenomenal women in their own unique way,” Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris said.

Harris opened her acceptance speech addressing the women that paved the way for her, going on to point out her mother’s strength as an Indian immigrant who raised two Black American and Indian daughters in the civil rights era to be strong and proud. She then went on to address the nation’s most pressing issues directly.

She talked about all the struggles of the pandemic, police brutality, healthcare, the criminal justice system, systematic racism, and Trump’s divisive presidency. Harris then shifted to her experience working with Beau Biden, as well as Biden’s character and resume, stating that she and Biden would fight together for the values they shared. Finally, she ended her speech bringing it back to parents and grandparents who struggled and fought for a future for their kids. She connected this to frontline workers, postal workers and poll workers, protestors, and the next generation who are fighting for values of equality and justice. 

Harris ended her speech with a call to action.

“Years from now, this moment will have passed,” Harris said in her speech. “And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?

As the speech ended, a Zoom audience was revealed as all women, many of them women of color, watchIng and applauding Harris.

Harris’ speech centered around women, the impact they had on her life, and how they paved the way for her. She connected this to the issues that she and Biden have and will fight for. Her speech and her message spoke to an optimistic future that her historic run for vice president represents. 

The fourth night ended the convention with Joe Biden’s speech accepting the Presidential nomination. While he spoke about a lot of America’s issues and about bringing the country together, one reference that he made to Harris summed up the future of the Democratic party. 

“She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country,” Biden said in his speech. “Women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left-out and left-behind”