The Best Quotes From Women At The DNC
Four years ago, Hillary Clinton made history at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) when she became the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. This year, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) made history at the DNC as well, becoming the first woman of color in the U.S. to be a vice presidential candidate. Harris’ acceptance speech on Wednesday night was inspiring and invigorating, but her speech was just one of many great remarks from women at this week’s virtual convention.
Here are some more highlights from women at the DNC.
The former first lady’s 18-minute speech focused not only on her endorsement of Joe Biden as the presidential nominee, but on the state of the country under the leadership of Donald Trump.
“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”
Obama also spoke openly about the enormity of the presidential job and the amount of level-headedness required of that person.
“Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high really still work?’ My answer: ‘Going high is the only thing that works. Because when we go low, we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. Going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: The cold hard truth.”
Obama was also sure to call attention to the danger of voter suppression in the U.S. in the wake of the Trump administration’s attack on the United States Postal Service (USPS), and implored Americans to vote early and to hold their friends and family accountable.
“We have got to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012,” she said. “We’ve got to vote early, in-person if we can, we’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now—tonight—and send them back immediately, and follow up to make sure they’re received, and then make sure our friends and families do the same.”
Eva Longoria Bastón
“Tonight, we stand together, united by the values we cherish: Decency, respect, justice, and the opportunity to rise up,” Eva Longoria Bastón said as she hosted on Monday, the opening night of the DNC. “We always hear that line about this being the most important election of our lifetimes, but this year it really is… The past four years have left us, as a nation, diminished and divided. And yet, in the middle of the fear and sorrow and the uncertainty, people have come together, because they know we are better than this. America is better than this. And so we choose to act inspired by the three words that breathed life into our nation: We the people.”
Tracee Ellis Ross
“As a Black woman, I find myself at a crucial intersection in American politics,” Tracee Ellis Ross said on Tuesday night as she hosted the DNC. “For far too long, Black female leadership has been utilized without being acknowledged or valued. But, we are turning the tide. Hello, Kamala. Her nomination is historic for anyone who believes in ‘we the people,'” Ross continued. “Like Senator Harris and many we saw in the keynote, today’s leaders emerged from communities that have long been underrepresented. They’re charting new paths in the spirit of Shirley Chisholm, Charlotta Bass, Fannie Lou Hamer, and John Lewis. They get in good trouble, necessary trouble otherwise ignored, elevating our nation, and changing the course of our lives for the better.”
Dr. Jill Biden
Former second lady Jill Biden spoke on Tuesday night from a classroom at Brandywine High School in Delaware. Biden spoke from her perspective as a former high school English teacher and current professor at Northern Virginia Community College, who cares about the American children trying to learn in the middle of a pandemic. She talked about how she loved the sounds of a full classroom and the smells of the new school year (brand-new notebooks and newly waxed floor among them), but noting now, “this quiet is heavy. You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways.”
“As a mother and a grandmother, as an American, I am heartbroken by the magnitude by this loss, by the failure to protect our communities, by every precious and irreplaceable life gone,” she continued. “Like so many of you, I’m left asking, ‘How do I keep my family safe?’” She also added that, on the campaign trail so far, she’s learned that America is not as deeply divided as some might think: “We’re seeing that our differences are precious and our similarities are infinite. We’ve seen that the heart of our nation still beats with kindness and courage.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was only given 60 seconds to speak at the DNC, but she used her time to commend those who have been protesting and fighting for a better, more equal nation following the unjust murders of Black Americans. She also incorporated Spanish into her speech from the start, kicking it off with, “Good evening, bienvenidos.”
“Thank you to everyone here today endeavoring towards a better and just future for our country and our world,” she said. “In fidelity and gratitude to a mass people’s movement working to establish 21st-century social, economic, and human rights, including guaranteed healthcare, higher education, living wages, and labor rights for all people in the United States. A movement striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia, and to propose reimagined systems of immigration and foreign policy that turn away from the violence and xenophobia of our past.”
Speaking in a video as the daughter of 65-year-old Mark Anthony Urquiza, an Arizona man who died from COVID-19, Kristen Urquiza criticized the Trump administration for its handling of the pandemic. She said her father listened to the Trump administration when they said it was OK to stop social distancing. Her father died at the end of June after going to a karaoke bar in late May and contracting coronavirus. She said her father’s “only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump.” She said COVID has “made clear there are two Americas: The America Donald Trump lives in and the America [her] father died in.”
Brittany, a New York Times security guard who met Biden in the elevator in January, endorsed him as president on Tuesday night. She said that she takes “important people” up in her elevator all the time and that they usually go to their meetings, she returns to the lobby, and that’s the end of it. But Biden was different.
“In the short time I spent with Joe Biden, I could tell he really saw me, that he actually cared, that my life meant something to him, and I knew that even when he went into his important meeting, he’d take my story with him…We’ve been through a lot, and we have tough days ahead. But nominating someone like that to be in the White House is a good place to start.”
Sen. Harris accepted her nomination for vice president in a speech on Wednesday night. In her speech, she uplifted the stories of the women of color who helped to build this nation and raise its future generations.
“This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment,” she said. “And we celebrate the women who fought for that right. Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification. But they were undeterred. Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought—not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table.”
She also spoke of her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from India to attend the University of California Berkeley, where she met Kamala’s father, an immigrant from Jamaica.
“My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives,” she said. She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.She taught us to put family first—the family you’re born into and the family you choose.”
On Wednesday night, as she spoke from a Springfield, Massachusetts, early childhood education center with a Black Lives Matter tribute behind her, the senator and former presidential candidate told her own story of her struggles as a young parent. She touched on the childcare crisis in the U.S., especially during the COVID-19 pandemic before she talked about child care as the “thing that almost sank her” as a working mother.
“One night my Aunt Bee called to check in. I thought I was fine, but then I just broke down and started to cry. I had tried holding it all together, but without reliable childcare, working was nearly impossible. And when I told Aunt Bee I was going to quit my job, I thought my heart would break. Then she said the words that changed my life: ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I’ll come on Thursday.’” She said her aunt Bee taught her “that nobody makes it on their own.” Her aunt arrived with seven suitcases and stayed for 16 years. But Warren said “if you have a baby and don’t have an Aunt Bee, you’re on your own.” She called for childcare to be “part of the basic infrastructure for this nation,” and make preschool universal and raise the wages of childcare providers.
Wearing her signature white suit on Wednesday night, Clinton, Donald Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, called out the president for his failures during this pandemic. She told Americans “this can’t be another woulda, coulda, shoulda election,” as she urged them to vote.
“Remember in 2016 when Trump asked: ‘What do you have to lose?’ Well, now we know: our health, our jobs, even our lives. Our leadership in the world and, even, our post office. As Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders warned us on Monday: If Trump is re-elected, it will get even worse. My friends, we need unity now more than ever.” Clinton, who won the popular vote in 2016 but lost the election, reminded voters that this could still happen: “Take. It. From. Me,” she said. “We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke of her experience as a member of the military who was severely injured during her time serving her country in Iraq. Duckworth was awarded the Purple Heart after she lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm. She lauded military family members who have to “pick up the pieces” when their military family members leave to serve their country once again. She said our service members deserve a leader who will protect and look out for their best interests. “Instead, they have a coward-in-chief, who won’t stand up to Vladimir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings, or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops heads.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms
Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, spoke of the protests across the world this summer and of the change that Atlanta’s hometown hero and civil rights icon, John Lewis, still hoped to see in the America he left behind when he died in July.
“He walked gently among us, not as a distant icon but as a God-fearing man who did what he could to fulfill the as-yet unfulfilled promise of America,” she said of the late congressman. “The baton has now been passed to each of us. We’ve cried out for justice, we’ve gathered in our streets to demand change, and now, we must pass on the gift John Lewis sacrificed to give us. We must register, and we must vote.”
“I’ve known the darkest of days, days of pain and uncertain recovery. But confronted by despair, I’ve summoned hope,” the former congresswoman said on Wednesday. “Confronted by paralysis and ataxia, I responded with grit and determination. I put one foot in front of the other. I’ve found one word and then I found another. My recovery is a daily fight, but fighting makes me stronger. Words once came easily. Today, I struggled to speak, but I have not lost my voice. America needs all of us to speak out even when you have to fight to find the words.”
“My people, the Pueblo Indians, migrated to the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1200s to escape drought… My people survived centurues of slavery, genocide, and brutal assimilation policies, but throughout our past, tribal nations have fought for and helped build this country… I stand here today a proud 35th-generation New Mexican, and one of the first Native American women ever elected to Congress,” Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) said on Thursday night. “I’m a symbol of our resilience as the embodiment of America’s progress as a nation. I know we can’t take our democracy for granted, especially now, as people are dying, as our land is abused, as our constitution is under attack. We must work for it by getting involved, by registering voters, by voting. Voting is sacred. My people know that. We weren’t universally granted the right to vote until 1962, and that fundamental right is more important than ever.”
Michelle Lujan Grisham
“We know time is running out to save our planet. We have the chance this November to end two existential crises: the Trump presidency and the environmental annihilation [Trump] represents,” Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico governor, said on Wednesday.