The RNC Is This Week…So Let’s Celebrate The Women of Color Who Made The DNC Great

August 24, 2020

Kamala Harris

Women of color have long been the driving force behind the Democratic Party, and last week, they proved how invaluable their leadership is at the Democratic National Convention. Throughout four days of speeches, women leaders of color most consistently spoke to the issues women care about — from strengthening the American healthcare system to creating strong climate policies, continuing to battle COVID-19 (from which women of color are disproportionately impacted), and much more.

Over the course of the four day convention, audience members heard from more than a dozen women officials of color — a list that ranged from senators to former First Lady Michelle Obama. The speeches acknowledged the damaging rhetoric that has dominated public discourse for the past four years, while striking a chord of optimism.

Supermajority News rounded up just some of the moments that prove that women of color are the future of the party.

Michelle Obama encouraged us to keep going high 

“Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high really still work?’” former First Lady Michelle Obama said in her speech. “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.”

Senator Kamala Harris acknowledged the long list of women of color who paved the way for her

Senator Kamala Harris deftly rose to the occasion of accepting the vice presidential nomination by acknowledging that her place on the ticket would not be possible without the work of Black suffragists and activists like Mary Church Terrell and Mary McCleod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Constance Baker Motley, and Shirley Chisholm.

“We’re not often taught their stories. But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders,” she said.

AOC recognized the work of young progressives nationwide — and the obstacles that have historically been in their way

Though she was only allotted just over a minute and a half for her scripted remarks, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still managed to have one of the convention’s most memorable moments. As she seconded the nomination of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination (a procedural move that occurs for every presidential candidate who receives a certain number of delegates), the Bronx native also acknowledged the causes progressives have been advocating for since Sanders’ first presidential campaign in 2016. 

Ocasio-Cortez spoke at the convention about how the progressive movement worked “to establish twenty-first century social, economic, and human rights, including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages, and labor rights for all people in the United States.” Ocasio-Cortez also acknowledged how “the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia” continue to negatively impact Americans today.

Senator Tammy Duckworth stressed the need to protect military members and their families

A veteran of the Iraq War, Duckworth lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm while serving in the military. Protecting those serving in the military, as well as veterans once they return home, has long been a major part of her work while in office. 

But now, the “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,” is failing Americans, Duckworth fearlessly pointed out.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Luján Grisham focused on the climate change emergency

Speaking in front of a solar array in Tao, New Mexico — the largest solar power substation in her state Governor Michelle Luján Grisham centered her convention remarks on the immediate need to address climate change, particularly as the Trump administration continues to roll back essential environmental regulations. Grisham was particularly proud of her state’s leadership on climate issues and its focus on the jobs good climate policy creates.

“While the Trump Administration has been eliminating environmental protections, we’ve expanded them,” she noted in her speech. “While they’ve been rolling back regulations on oil and gas, we’ve taken on polluters and held them accountable. We’ve committed to a renewable energy future, with exciting and fulfilling careers for workers all across our beautiful state.”

The governor also stressed that under a Biden-Harris administration, the United States would rejoin the Paris Agreement and accelerate “our nation and world into a clean, green twenty-first century—and well beyond.”

Stacey Abrams and Deb Haaland Highlight The Need To Focus On Voter Suppression

Since gaining national attention during the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018, Stacey Abrams has been a leading voice against voter suppression. Her keynote convention speech was no exception. The United States is currently fighting “a triple threat, a public health catastrophe, an economic collapse and a reckoning with racial justice and inequality,” Abrams said.

But in order for our democracy to thrive, the right to vote needs to be secure for all Americans. “In a time of voter suppression at home and authoritarians abroad, Joe Biden will be a champion for free and fair elections…And for accountability and integrity in our system of justice,” she said.

The importance of fighting against voter suppression was also a major theme in New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s remarks to the convention. After acknowledging her Native American heritage as “a proud thirty-fifth generation New Mexican,” Haaland also noted how “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.”

Working to get Americans registered and to the polls in November is key, Haaland continued. “Voting is sacred,” she said. “My people know that. We weren’t universally granted the right to vote until 1962, and that fundamental right is more important than ever.”