How storytelling influenced the speech i wrote for kamala harris
Below is an excerpt from the speech I wrote for Kamala Harris. The reason I chose this portion of the speech to share with you is because I was asked to incorporate the one thing that is guaranteed to get the audience’s attention: storytelling. As it turns out, the part of the speech that focused on stories received more comments, excitement and attention than any other section. But don’t take my word for it-try this at home!
I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mother who craved the American dream for her two young daughters but also knew the journey would not be an easy one for us. She was intuitive enough to know that we wouldn’t have the luxury to be distracted or to put our hopes and dreams in someone else’s hands. She used to say to me, “Kamala, don’t let people tell you who you are, you tell them who you are.” She knew that my identity as a black woman would be my greatest asset, and she was right.
Today I stand here as the first African American woman Vice President of the United States, a moment that has been in the making for over 250 years, and while we celebrate that victory today, and boy do we celebrate it, we do so with the knowledge that there is more work to do. Who we want to be going forward will shape our identity for many years to come. This election reminded us that freedom and democracy will last as long as we are willing to fight for them.
Martin Luther King once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” His words are illuminated here today in the excitement and joy in every single one of you. You never cease to amaze me. (pause) Our identity as Americans has always been our ability to overcome whatever stands between us and making this great country a place where everyone can thrive. Your hunger to preserve that high bar is evident here today. (pause) When I hear the rhetoric about our divisiveness and polarization, I’m comforted by the most important thing that we have in common, (pause) our love for this country and our constant motor to make it better. This is who we are.
Take a look around! (pause) This is a movement. This is an explosion of our greatest asset, you-the American people. Look at what you’ve accomplished to get to this very moment. You are everything that is good about this country. No matter what side you’re on, no matter which political party you resonate with, the heartbeat of this country has always been and always will be the people. (pause)
If we’re honest about who we are and how we got here, we need to first acknowledge that our ancestors immigrating to this country is a formidable part of our story. The American identity is consecrated onto the hearts of every immigrant who wanted their children to have a better future. My mother was one of them. She moved to the United States from Delhi when she just 18 years old to pursue her education and her dreams as a cancer researcher. We are all daughters and sons of hard-working people who dreamt of a better tomorrow.
It is our obligation to ensure that every immigrant experience the same rite of passage as our ancestors so graciously did. We stand on their shoulders and we are grateful for their journey. And like my mother so wisely said, we will continue to tell the story of who we are so that the generations to come will stand on our shoulders and proudly tell their stories of how they came to this great country to live the American dream. This is the American identity. This is who we are. This is who we will always be. (pause)
This speech utilized storytelling in two ways, do you know which two ways I’m referring to?