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Kamala Harris' Inauguration Speech

This study guide will help you analyze Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Speech from 2021. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas for discussing it and putting it into perspective

Kamala Harris (b. 1964) is an American politician and the current vice president of the United States under President Joe Biden (you can find Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address here). She is the first female vice president in America, as well as the first Asian-American and African-American vice president. Her first speech as vice president was delivered on January 20, 2021, during a live Inauguration Day broadcast.  

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Repetition

Harris talks about American ambition and determination, then concludes that “this is American aspiration”. In the last part of her speech, she talks about ordinary people who work towards America’s progress and concludes that “this too is American aspiration”. Therefore, the repetition suggests that the efforts of ordinary people are equally important as those of influential figures when it comes to America’s evolution. 

Then, the repetition of “we” in the following series suggests that progress is a common effort and that people should unite to see change: 

We not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. 

What is more, the repetition of “we” reinforces the idea that Harris sees herself as part of the people. 

Later on, the repetition of “I see” helps Harris build the idea that ordinary people are important when it comes to shaping the future, and it shows that their efforts do not go unnoticed: “I see it in the scientists who are transforming the future. I see it in the parents who are nurturing generations to come, in the innovators and the educators”.

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Kamala Harris' Inauguration Speech

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