Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office in a historic ceremony Wednesday, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the 56-year-old delivered her first official speech as the new vice president of the United States during the Celebrating America inauguration concert special that took place later in the evening.
Addressing the nation in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Harris expressed optimism for the future and encouraged Americans to “see beyond crisis.”
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Read her full 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.