In particular, she praised some of the women who paved the way for her and helped secure the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right vote.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they organized and testified and rallied and marched and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table,” she said. “These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed,” she said, adding that their efforts also paved the way for Hillary Clinton and the country’s first Black President, Barack Obama.
“These women inspired us to pick up the torch, and fight on … We’re not often taught their stories, but as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.”
Here’s a closer look at some of those women.
Shyamala Gopalan Harris
Kamala Harris spoke about the moral values her mother instilled in her about family, public service and her Christian faith.
“My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives,” Kamala Harris said, adding that she raised them to be “proud, strong Black women and she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
She said, “My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight, but I know she’s looking down on me from above.”
Mary McLeod Bethune
Constance Baker Motley
Fannie Lou Hamer
This civil rights icon, whose famous words “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired” is still a rallying cry for activists today, was born the daughter of sharecroppers in Montgomery County, Mississippi, on October 6, 1917. Fannie Lou Hamer pushed for voting rights and desegregation in the state, working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was even fired by a plantation owner for trying to register to vote in 1962 and was also vocal about her experience of forced sterilization in which she was given a hysterectomy without her consent while in the hospital for a minor procedure.
In 1964, she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenging the state’s all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1964. There, she gave a fiery testimony to the Credentials Committee about the violence she faced from White supremacists, even recounting an incident in 1963 in which she and other activists were arrested and beaten by police officers. She is also an honorary member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mary Church Terrell
The daughter of former slaves, Mary Church Terrell pushed for women’s right to vote and racial equality and fought against segregation. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 23, 1863, she is a founder of the NAACP and helped found the National Association of Colored Women. She is an honorary member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She and Harris shared a similar message in their speeches, saying it takes all Americans to change the country. As the Democratic vice presidential nominee put it on Wednesday, “there is no vaccine for racism. We have got to do the work.”
“We’ve got to do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law. Because here’s the thing: none of us are free, until all of us are free.”
In 1976, Jordan spoke about the significance of her taking the stage and quoted former President Abraham Lincoln.
“Now I began this speech by commenting to you on the uniqueness of a Barbara Jordan making a keynote address. Well I am going to close my speech by quoting a Republican president and I ask you that as you listen to these words of Abraham Lincoln, relate them to the concept of a national community in which every last one of us participates:
“‘As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.'”
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.