The nomination of Kamala Harris as the Democratic candidate for vice president is more than a political landmark.
As the first Black and Asian woman to be nominated by a major party as a national candidate, she has made history. But she has also affirmed something that women have long known as a source of strength and inspiration. We are not alone. We are never alone.
Harris has often spoken of the late Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress who, in 1972, became the first Black major-party candidate to run for president.
“I stand, as so many of us do, on her shoulders,” Harris told The Grio. “Because she understood that you just march to that podium, and you claim that podium as yours, you don’t ask anybody permission.
“And she was supported in that venture, and that’s really important to know and to hold on to. When each of us takes that step that requires courage, there will be a community there to support us, to receive us, and to applaud us when we make that step.
“I try to remind people, don’t let anyone convince you that you are alone. You come with people, and there is a community of people that will always be in that room with you, even if you are the only one like you in that room at that moment. So never feel small or alone in a way that would make you feel marginalized — never.”
Those of us who have been working for women’s rights as long as Kamala Harris — or Shirley Chisholm, who was one of the original founders of NOW and who received NOW’s first presidential endorsement — have never wavered from our commitment to lift each other up, push our cause forward and stand together against the most powerful and entrenched opposition.
We know that we are never alone — and we’ve proved it time and again.
The day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, we made history with a massive Women’s March on Washington, and scores of other demonstrations around the country and around the world. In 2018, the biggest turnout of women voters ever elected the most feminist Congress in history, and we are poised to shatter that record this November.
Women are excited about Kamala Harris not just because she represents a turning point in history but because of what she stands for and what she’ll accomplish.
She has long advocated for pay transparency in our workplaces so more women have the ability to negotiate their salaries and end pay discrimination, and she is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which requires employers to show that pay differences are not due to gender.
Harris has been a fierce advocate of women’s access to reproductive health care, and she has made addressing the Black maternal health crisis a personal priority.
During her presidential campaign, she announced a plan to close the nationwide rape kit backlog, and she has pledged to close the so-called “Boyfriend Loophole” that allows dating partners convicted of domestic violence to buy guns.
And of course, Kamala Harris has been one of the sharpest, toughest and most relentless questioners of Donald Trump’s appointees, henchmen and enablers like Brett Kavanaugh and William Barr. She will tear the bark off Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Kamala Harris will energize and motivate the electorate — and not just women. Her energy, optimism and vision stand in contrast to her opponents’ cynical politics of division and fear.
This campaign is, as has been often said, about the soul of America — but it’s also about its heart. The humanity, compassion and caring that Kamala Harris exhibits must prevail against the heartlessness of Donald Trump and the robotic conformity of Mike Pence. That’s why women are once again “fired up and ready to go” to cast their votes in November.
If there’s one thing that women know with certainty, it is that we are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. Kamala Harris has acknowledged the women who’ve influenced and inspired her, and now, future generations will be standing on her shoulders as they fulfill their own dreams and destiny.
And our country will be all the better for it.