To the people of India, and Indian Americans all across the United States, I want to wish you a happy Indian Independence Day. On August 15, 1947, men and women all over India, rejoiced in the declaration of the independence of the country of India. Today, on August 15, 2020, I stand before you, as the first candidate for vice president of the United States, o f South Asian descent. When my mother, Shyamala, stepped off the plane in California at 19 years old, she did not have much in the way of belongings – but she carried with her lessons from back home. Including ones she learned from her parents, my grandmother, Rajam, and her father and my grandfather, P.V. Gopalan. They taught her that, when you see injustice in the world, you have an obligation to do something about it. Which is what inspired my mother, to march and shout on the streets of Oakland, at the height of the civil rights movement. A movement whose leaders, including Dr Martin Luther King Jr., were themselves inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. And it was during those protests that my mother met my father – and the rest as they say, is history.
Growing up, my mother would take my sister Maja and me back to what was then called Madras – because she wanted us to understand where she had come from and where we had ancestry. And of course, she always wanted to instill in us a love of good idli. In Madras, I would go on long walks with my grandfather – who at that point was retired. And we’d take morning walks were I would hold his hand and he would tell me about the heroes who were responsible for the birth of the world's biggest democracy. And he would explain that it was on us, to pick up where they left off. Those lessons are big reason why I am who I am today.
Our community is bound together by so much more than our shared history and culture. The reason there is a kinship between everyone who was a product of the South Asian diaspora, no matter how diverse our backgrounds may be, is because we also share a set of values. Values forged by overcoming colonial pasts, not only in one nation, but in two. Values like tolerance, pluralism and diversity. And reflecting on the past 73 years, it is remarkable how much progress people have made in the fight for justice. And we should be proud. But we wouldn’t be, if we did not commit ourselves to building an even better future. So I hope that you celebrate today, and then tomorrow, I hope you join me in getting to work.
Thank you, and happy Independence Day.
Harris, K. [Joe Biden]. (2020, August 5) Indian Independence Day Celebration and A Conversation on U.S.-India Friendship [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKTUk6w9xpg] Retrieved on April 21, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6ZFN9Tx6xh-skXCuRHCDpQ.