Harris becomes the first Black woman and Asian American person on a major party ticket
SEVERAL Filipino American elected officials and community leaders on Tuesday, August 11 reacted to the selection of California Senator Kamala Harris as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate.
“Fierce, endlessly-talented, values-based, and Oakland-born, [Kamala] will not back down as we take back our country and restore our American values of opportunity, equity, justice and inclusion for all!” California Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who represents the state’s 18th Assembly District, said in a Facebook post.
Juslyn Manalo, vice mayor of Daly City, California, said the announcement “sends the right message” of what a Biden presidency will look like.
“Joe Biden choosing Senator Harris will dramatically improve how the voters look at his candidacy and values,” she said.
Manalo serves as the state’s co-chair for “Filipino Americans for Biden,” a national group of Fil-Ams working to send the former vice president to the White House this November.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, revealed the first-term senator as his pick in a historic move on Tuesday after months of speculation.
Harris — the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants — is the first Black woman and the first Asian American person to be on a major party’s presidential ticket. (She is also the third woman to be a vice-presidential choice after Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008).
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden wrote in a social media post.
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I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate. Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.
Melissa Ramoso, Fil-Ams for Biden national campaign co-chair and Artesia, California councilmember, said Harris brings “good judgment, good leadership skills and can be a trusted advisor to Biden.”
“A historic selection Filipino Americans can be proud of and it energizes our community for the November elections,” Ramoso said.
The 55-year-old first-term senator from California has risen as a prominent leader in the Democratic Party and previously vied for the presidential nomination before dropping out in December. Prior to the Senate, Harris was the former California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney.
“Senator Harris represents so many communities and selecting her as vice president solidifies that not only can women and people of color have a seat at the table, but we can be at the head of it,” added Jessica Caloza, president of the Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats.
Following Biden’s performance on Super Tuesday in March, Harris threw her support behind him, despite their contentious exchange during a primary debate last summer during which she grilled the former vice president on his civil rights record.
On Tuesday, Harris wrote in a Facebook post, “I’m honored to join Joe Biden in the fight for the soul of our country as the Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee.”
For New York-based philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, the announcement is a “winning combination” and a call to action for fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
“Kamala knows what are the hardships and triumphs of a person of color in America,” Nicolas Lewis, a spokesperson for Filipino Americans for Biden and AAPI Victory Fund board member, told the Asian Journal. “We will be the margin of victory for Biden/Harris in this historic iconic election, which is a fight for the soul of America.”
AAPIs are considered the fastest-growing segment of eligible voters out of the major ethnic groups in the United States, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.
Filipino Americans, along with Chinese and Indian Americans, are among the top three groups in the U.S. Asian electorate.
In an April interview with the Asian Journal, Harris made a plea for Californians to fill out their 2020 Census form, as the data helps determine how federal funds are allocated to each state, and to vote in the upcoming election this fall.
“Who holds these positions matters in times like this,” Harris told the Asian Journal. “We have to make sure that we have elected representatives who understand the community…and who speak up for the community. No one should be made to fight alone, we’re all in this together.”