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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at Spelman

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Start of Quote ...You’re going to look around this chapel, you’re going to look around the oval, wherever you need to look you hold onto these memories and you remember that when you’re in that room and you are the only one like you in that room, you are not alone, we are all in that room with you.End of Quote

 

Remaining Undaunted by the Fight

Kamala Harris When we talk about breaking barriers, some would suggest that you’re just on this side of the barrier and then you turn out on this side of the barrier.

No, it’s breaking barriers. And when you break things, it hurts. And sometimes you get cut and it can be painful. So I say this to you not to scare you, I say this to prepare you. To prepare you. Because you can do it and you will do it and you will have all of us there to support you in doing it.

But it will not be without great effort and often with great opposition, and it can be done. But you know, we’re not going to play a violin about it, I’m not going to play a violin about what it involves, but you are going to encounter people who may ignore you or dismiss your ideas or take your ideas as their own. That will happen.

But what’s our theme? Undaunted. Undaunted. Undaunted.

And all that can take a toll, to be sure. And you may second guess yourself at times in your career. But I’m here to just tell you that may happen and you may have that urge to do it but do not, do not second guess yourselves. Do not be deterred.

And know instead that breaking a barrier may sometimes be painful but it is so worth it. It is so worth it. And I’ll tell you the reason is because you will be fighting a fight worth having. You will be fighting a fight worth having.

And you will be exercising that - and the Spelmanites know what I’m talking about - you will be exercising that “Choice to Change the World.”

And by doing that you will also ensure that the next generation will have a path.

You know my mother used to tell me, she would tell my sister, my mother would look at me and she’d say “Kamala you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.” And that’s part of what breaking those barriers, that’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.

And being undaunted by the fight also means remembering, and this is really important, that you are never alone. Now here’s why I say that.

When I’m questioning a witness when I serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I also serve on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and I know when I am there I am standing on the shoulders of so many people who mentored me, who were the role models for me, who were leaders who nurtured me either directly or indirectly and lifted me up. 

And so when I’m there, I certainly feel a duty to speak on behalf of so many people who are not in that room and people who, historically, have never been in that room.

And when you leave here, you are going to often find yourselves in a situation where you are in a room, be that a boardroom, a courtroom, or a Senate hearing room, and you are the only one in that room that looks like you. You are going to have that experience many times.

And what I want you to remember, and you’re going to look around this chapel, you’re going to look around the oval, wherever you need to look you hold onto these memories and you remember that when you’re in that room and you are the only one like you in that room, you are not alone, we are all in that room with you.

And at other times, you’re going to have this experience where people will look at you and they will say, “You’re special.” “Oh, you’re unique.” Now if your family is telling you that, that’s fine. If we’re telling you that, it’s true. But be careful because sometimes what that might mean, unintentionally or intentionally, is to suggest you’re the only one like you.

Or to say, you are alone. And you must remember, you come with people, and you will never be in those situations alone.

It’s critically important that you remember that. You remember that you are part of a Spelman family. You remember you are part of a broader family and you are never alone or the only one like you. There are many of us. There are a lot of us, and we are everywhere.

So I’m going to wrap up with this.

In this inflection moment, many are – you know I’ve been traveling the country campaigning with my colleagues speaking with a lot of folks and there are a lot of folks feeling a sense of despair. And others are even cynical.

But let’s remember our history. And let’s remember Spelman’s history. Your history.

Remember that in only 130 years, this school went from being in a church basement to the top-ranked HBCU in the country.

Remember that you are Spelman. And Spelman women change the world.

And whatever the future holds, toil and pain, know that you can walk into any situation, you can lead in any field, you can take on any challenge, and you will go forward unburdened, unwavering, and undaunted by the fight.

Thank you.