On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris kicked off her bid for the presidency by holding a rally in the City of Oakland, her hometown, where she she provided an outline of her campaign and introduced herself to the nation.
We took the audio and created a transcript of her speech:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh my heart is full right now. Thank you everyone.
Let me start. I want to thank Libby Schaaf, the great mayor of the city of Oakland, that incredible introduction and our longstanding friendship. You know, our mothers were friends together also here in Oakland and I can’t thank you enough for your leadership and your friendship. So here we are. Here we are.
Well, let me tell you, I am so proud to be a daughter of Oakland, California and as most of you know, I was born just up the road at Kaiser Hospital and it was just a few miles away that my parents first met as graduate students at UC Berkeley. Where they were active in the civil rights movement and they were born half a world apart from each other. My father, Donald, came from Jamaica to study economics. My mother Shyamala came from India to study the science of fighting disease.
They came here in pursuit of more than just knowledge, like so many others. They came in pursuit of a dream and that dream was a dream for themselves, for me and for my sister Maya. As children growing up here in the East Bay. We were raised by a community with a deep belief in the promise of our country and a deep understanding of the parts of that promise that still remained unfulfilled. We were raised in a community where we were taught to see a world beyond just ourselves.
To be conscious and compassionate about the struggles of all people. We were raised to believe public service is a noble cause and the fight for justice is everyone’s responsibility.
In fact, my mother used to say, don’t sit around and complain about things, do something. I’m basically, I think she was basically saying, you’ve got to get up and stand up and don’t give up the fight, and it is this deep-rooted belief that inspired me to become a lawyer and a prosecutor. It was just a couple of blocks from this very spot.
Nearly 30 years ago as the young district attorney, I walked into the courtroom for the first time and said the five words that would guide my life’s work, Camilla Harris for the people.
Now our criminal justice system was deeply flawed, but I also knew the profound impact law enforcement has on people’s lives and it’s responsibility to give them safety and dignity. I knew I wanted to protect people and I knew that the people in our society who are most often targeted by predators are also most often the voiceless and vulnerable.
I believe and on that point, I believed then as I do now, no one should be left to fight alone because you see in our system of justice, we believe that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. That is why when a case is filed, it doesn’t read the name of the victim. It reads the people, and this is a point I have often explained to console and counsel survivors of crime. People who faced great harm often at the hands of someone they trust. Being a relative or a bank or a big corporation, I would remind them, you are not invisible. We all stand together because that is the power of the people and my whole life, I’ve only had one client. The people! And fighting for the people, fighting on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, a fight not just against predators, but a fight against silence and stigma.
For the people meant fighting for a more fair criminal justice system at a time when prevention and redemption were in the vocabulary or mindset of most district attorneys, we created an initiative to get skills and job training instead of jail time for young people, arrested for drugs,
For the people, meant fighting for middle class families who had been defrauded by banks and were losing their homes by the millions in the great recession. And I’ll tell you, sitting across the table from the big banks I witnessed the arrogance of power. Wealthy bankers accusing innocent homeowners of fault as if Wall Street’s mess was of the people’s making. So we went after the five biggest banks in the United States. We won 20 billion down together. We passed the strongest anti-foreclosure law in the United States of America. We did that together.
For the people, meant fighting transnational gangs who traffic in drugs and guns and human beings, and I saw their sophistication, their persistence, and their ruthlessness and folks on the subject of transnational gangs. Let’s be perfectly clear, the president’s mid-evil vanity project is not going to stop them.
And in the fight for the people to hold this administration accountable, I have seen the amazing spirit of the American people. During the healthcare fight, I saw parents and children with grave illnesses walk the halls of the United States Congress. Families who had traveled across the country at incredible sacrifice. They came to our nation’s capital believing that if their stories were heard and if they were seen, their leaders would do the right thing.
I saw the same thing with our Dreamers. They came by the thousands by plane, train, automobile. I’m sure they were sleeping 10 deep on someone’s living room floor and they came because they believe in our democracy and the only country they have ever known as home. I met survivors who shared their deepest and most painful personal experiences, who told stories they had never before revealed even to their closest loved ones because they believed that if they were seen that their leaders would do the right thing and protect the highest court in our land. And together we took on these battles and to be sure we’ve won and we’ve lost, but we have never stopped fighting.
That’s why we are here today and that’s why we are here today. We are here knowing we are at an inflection point in the history of our world. We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation. We are here because the American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before. And we are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question. Who are we? Who are we as Americans? So let’s answer that question to the world and each other right here and right now. America, we are better than this.
When we have leaders from bullying attack of free press and undermine our democracy and democratic institutions, that’s not our America. When white supremacists, March and murder in Charlottesville or massacre, innocent worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue. That’s not our American.
When we have children in cages crying for their mothers and fathers. Don’t you dare call that border security. That’s a human rights abuse. And that is not our America.
When we have leaders in public schools and vilified public school teachers, that is not our America bankers who crashed our economy get bonuses, but the workers who brought our country back can even get a raise. That’s not our American.
When American families are barely living paycheck to paycheck, what is this administration’s response? Their response is to try and take healthcare away from millions of families. Their response is to give away a trillion dollars to the biggest corporations in this country. And their response is to blame immigrants as the source of all our problems. And guys, let’s understand what’s happening here. People in power are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other, but that is not our story. That is not who we are. That is not our America.
You see our United States of America is not about us versus them. It’s about we the people, and in this moment we must all speak truth about what is happening. We must seek truth, speak truth, and fight for the truth. So let’s speak some truth. Let’s speak truth about our economy. Our economy today is not working for working people.
The cost of living is going up, but paychecks aren’t keeping up. For so many Americans, a decent retirement feels out of reach and the American dream feels out of touch. The truth is our people are drowning in debt record student loan debt, car loan debt, credit card debt, resorting to pay day lenders because you can’t keep up with the bills. People are drowning in America. We have a whole generation of Americans living with a sinking fear that they won’t do as well as their parents. And let’s speak another truth about our economy. Women are paid on average, eighty cents on the dollar. Black women, sixty-three cents. Latinas, fifty-three cents. Here’s the thing, and here’s the thing. When we lift up the women of our country, we lift up the children of our country, families of our country and the whole society benefits.
Let’s speak another truth. Big pharmaceutical companies have unleashed an opioid crisis from the California coast to the mountains of West Virginia and people once and for all we have got to call drug addiction, what it is, a national public health emergency. What we don’t need is another war on drugs.
Let’s speak truth. Climate change is real and it is happening now. Everybody here knows from wildfires in the west to hurricanes in the east to floods and droughts in the heartland, but we’re not going to buy the lie. We’re going to act based on science fact, not science fiction.
And let’s speak and uncomfortable but honest truth with one another. Racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia. Transphobia are real in this country. And they are our age old forms of hate with new fuel, and we need to speak that truth so we can deal with it.
Let’s also speak the truth that too many unarmed black men and women are killed in America. Black and brown Americans are being locked up from mass incarceration to cash bail to policing our criminal justice system needs drastic repair, lets speak that truth.
And let’s speak truth under this administration, America’s position in the world has never been weaker. When democratic values are under attack around the globe, when authoritarianism is on the march, when nuclear proliferation is on the rise, when we have foreign powers infecting the White House like malware, lets speak that truth.
Let’s speak truth about what are clear and present dangers, and let’s speak the biggest truth, the biggest truth of all in the face of powerful forces trying to sell hate and division among us, the truth is that as Americans, we have so much more in common than what separate us. Lets speak that truth. And let’s not buy that stuff that some folks are trying to peddle. Let’s never forget that on the fundamental issues, we all have so much more in common than what separates us and you know, some will say, well, we need to search to find that common ground. Here’s what I say, I think we need to recognize we are already standing on common ground.
I say we rise together or we fall together as one nation indivisible. I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not talking about unity for the sake of unity, so hear me out. I’m not talking about unity for the sake of unity. I’m not talking about some facade of unity and I believe we must acknowledge that the word unity has often been used to shut people up or to preserve the status quo. Let’s remember when women fought for suffrage, those in power said they were dividing the sexist and disturbing the peace. Let’s remember when abolitionists spoke out and civil rights workers marched, their oppressors said they were dividing the races and violating the word of God, but Frederick Douglas said it best, and Harriet Tubman and Dr King knew to love the religion of Jesus is to hate the religion of the slave master.
When we have true unity, no one will be subjugated for others. It’s about fighting for a country with equal treatment, collective purpose and freedom for all. That is who we are.
So I stand before you today, clear eyed about the fight ahead and what has to be done with faith in God, with fidelity to country, and with the fighting spirit I got from my mother, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.
And I will tell you I’m running for president because I love my country. I love it. I’m running to be president of the people, by the people and for all people. I’m running to fight for an America where the economy works for working people for an America where you only have to work one job to pay the bills and where hard work is rewarded and where any worker can join a union.
I am running to declare once and for all that healthcare is a fundamental right. We will deliver that right with Medicare for all.
I am running to declare education is a fundamental right and we will guarantee that right with universal pre-k and debt free college.
I am running to guarantee working- and middle-class families and overdue pay increase. We will deliver the largest working- and middle-class tax cut in a generation. Up to $500 a month to help America’s families make ends meet. We’ll pay for it. We’ll pay for it by reversing this administration’s giveaways to the top big corporations and the top 1%.
I’m running to fight for an America where our democracy and its institutions are protected against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Which is why I will defend this nation against all threats to our cyber security. We will secure our elections and our critical infrastructure to protect our democracy and we will honor our service members and veterans so no one who has served this country has to wait in line for weeks and months to get what they are owed when they return home on first day.
I’m running to fight for an America where no mother or father has to teach their young son that people may stop him, arrest him, chase him, or kill him because of his race. An America where every parent can send their children to school without haunted by the horror of yet another killing spree.
Where we treat attacks on voting rights and civil rights and women’s rights and immigrant rights as a tax on our country itself. An America, where we welcome refugees and bring people out of the shadows and provide a pathway to citizenship
An America where our daughters and our sisters and our mothers and our grandmothers are respected where they live and where they work. Where reproductive rights are not protected by the constitution of the United States, but guaranteed in every State. I’ll fight for an America where we keep our word and where we honor our promises because that’s our America and that’s the America I believe in. That’s the America I know we believe in and as we embark on this campaign, I will tell you this, I am not perfect. Lord knows I am not perfect, but I will always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect.
I will lead with integrity and I will speak the truth, and of course we know this is not going to be easy guys. It’s not going to be easy. And we know what the doubters will say. It’s the same thing they’ve always said. They’ll say, it’s not your time. They’ll say, wait your turn. They’ll say the odds are long. They’ll say it can’t be done, but America’s story has always been written by people who can see what can be and unburdened by what has been. That is our story.
As Robert Kennedy many years ago said, only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. He also said, I do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties of challenging an incumbent president, but these are not ordinary times, and this is not an ordinary election. He said, at stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country, it is our right to moral leadership of this planet.
So today I say to you my friends, these are not ordinary times, and this will not be an ordinary election, but this is our America.
So here’s the thing. It’s up to us. It’s up to us, each and every one of us. So let’s remember in this fight we have the power of the people. We can achieve the dreams of our parents. And grandparents, we can heal our nation, we can give our children the future they deserve. We can reclaim the American dream for every single person in our country. We can restore America’s moral leadership on this planet.
So, let’s do this, and let’s do it together and let’s start now and I thank you, and god bless you and god bless the United States of America.
For more on her campaign: www.kamalaharris.org