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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at Spelman

Start of Quote...Let’s also speak the truth that elections matter. Voting matters …. We can honor the ancestors by voting early. And certainly in the next 10 days, we can send a message that if someone is trying to End of Quotesuppress our vote, then we will vote them out of office. Because that is a fight worth having.

 

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) delivered a lecture at Spelman on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, as part of the College’s annual Homecoming events. “When I see all the Spelmanites in this chapel, I know the future is bright,” said Harris during her lecture, “Undaunted by the Fight,” borrowed from a line in the Spelman hymn. Speaking to students, alumnae, staff, and faculty from Spelman and the Atlanta University Center, Harris emphasized the urgency of the current political moment, highlighted the importance of young women of color taking on leadership roles, and drew from her own experiences to suggest how young women can remain undaunted by the challenges ahead.

"Go forward unburdened, unwavering, and undaunted by the fight”

Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at Spelman

 

Speech by Senator Kamala Harris

Delivered October 26, 2018 | Sisters Chapel, Spelman College

Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at SpelmanI’m honored to be here this evening and to have been invited to give this lecture during Homecoming.

I was just asking Roz if it was ok that I share with you a little bit about what we talked about during her visit, because she is the reason I am here. She insisted [that I] come in and speak and I’m so glad that you did because truly, given the recent events, to be here and among these incredible leaders it warms my heart.

So yes, a lot was going on and my team told me well, there’s a very important person from this very important company, Starbucks, and she’s a member of the – she’s a CEO – I’m just going to give you that title – and she would like to meet with you. And then I knew who it was and I said well, absolutely.

And as soon as she walked through the door we of course had an immediate connection, and we did. And let me just tell you, we talked about everything.

We talked about those lids. So here’s what I said to her. Here’s what I said to her. So you know how those lids – well I’m just going to speak ok so this is it. So you know how those lids on the Starbucks cups, they’re white, right? And so if you wear lipstick, they get all over the lid.

And so then I find myself in meetings, if I’m the only woman – so I keep taking the lid off and having my cup out so I don’t have that big lipstick mark on the lid. So I said, can we do something about the color of the lid?

So that was that conversation. But it ranged from that to of course our mutual experience being proud graduates of an HBCU, to a conversation about one of things I am sure these bright Spelman leaders are thinking about, which is AI. And we talked about the significance of racial bias in computer learning and in particular AI.

So that was the range of our conversation, which really is I think just an example of the range of conversations that we each have with each other. It might be about the color of our lipstick, and it also might be about what we need to do in terms of Artificial Intelligence and how we plan the future of the world.

So I am so excited to be with you this afternoon and Roz, thank you again. And I just think that there is so much of course to talk about but when I see in the Spelmanites in this chapel and I see the future of our country, I know our future is bright. I know our future is bright.

And indeed there are days that are dark, but when I look at the light that you, in particular you students are shining, I know that we are on the path to greatness and that you are going to lead the way. So I am honored to be with you today.

And this indeed is very special place. Spelman is a very special place. That Spelman hymn that you have sung so many times says, and I don’t need to tell you but I’ll repeat it for those who don’t know, “Through years of toil and pain / may thy dear walls remain / beacons of heavenly light, undaunted by the fight.”

So for my lecture, I decided I wanted to talk about those last four words, “undaunted by the fight.”

Undaunted by the Fight

So undaunted by the fight. So today I want to speak some truth about that fight, and the urgency of this moment, and how we are looking to women like you to lead the way, and how we can remain undaunted by the challenges we face.

I believe we are at an inflection moment in the history of our country. A moment similar to the moment in time when my parents met when they were graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s, and active in the Civil Rights movement, marching and shouting for justice.  

It’s a moment where there are powerful forces, right now, that are trying to sow hate and division among us.

And there are a lot of people in our country right now who are extremely distrustful, understandably, of our government, its institutions and its leaders. And what we know is there is something about the nature about the relationship of trust that must be acknowledged.

The nature of a relationship of trust is that it is a reciprocal relationship. You give and you receive trust. And one of the most important ingredients in trust is truth, is truth. But what we also know is speaking truth can often make people quite uncomfortable.

You know for people like me who stand at podiums like this and people who run for office, there’s actually an incentive that when we get in front of a microphone we’ll give a speech and it’ll be a lovely speech and everybody will feel lovely about it, and we’ll spread the lovely dust all over the room and then we’ll just walk out and everybody will applaud feeling just wonderful.

But speaking the truth doesn’t always accomplish that goal, and so sometimes there’s a disincentive to speak truth. But speak truth we must, understanding also that when we speak truth yes, people may walk away from that conversation thinking I didn’t particularly like what I had to hear, but they will also walk away from that conversation knowing it was an honest conversation.