Kamala Harris, the first vice president of Asian descent, will talk about her heritage and call attention to recent hate crimes in a keynote speech.,
Harris will speak at a summit seeking to unite Democratic senators of color.
Kamala Harris, the first vice president of Asian descent, will talk about her heritage and call attention to a recent spate of violence against Asian-Americans.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
By Katie Rogers
May 17, 2021, 8:21 a.m. ET
Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver the keynote address on Wednesday at a virtual event intended to encourage a group of eight Democratic senators of color to work closer together on behalf of minority communities.
The event, hosted by the AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee focused on mobilizing Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, comes amid a rise in reports of violence against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. Ms. Harris, whose mother was Indian, is the first vice president of Asian descent, and she is expected to address her heritage during her speech.
Event organizers also expect Ms. Harris to focus on the political power Asian-American voters wield — they turned out in record numbers during the last presidential election — as well as on the potential of minority lawmakers working together.
“I imagine she’ll touch on the fact that in order to stay unified, we need to build an allyship with other people of color and other underrepresented groups,” Varun Nikore, the president of the AAPI Victory Fund, said in an interview. “We need the broader spirit of partnering with other communities in this country, because most of our issues are the same.”
All eight Democratic senators of color are expected to attend on Wednesday. The group includes senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Alex Padilla of California, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
The group has worked together to issue joint statements condemning the recent spate of violence against Asian-Americans. Its members have discussed formally creating a caucus that would focus on issues faced by Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, but those plans have not yet been solidified.
Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state, is also expected to attend the event.
Ms. Harris, for her part, has in recent weeks been more vocal about the need to call attention to the violence and condemn acts of hate.
“This speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it,” Ms. Harris said in March, reacting to a spree of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent. “I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people.”