Over my four years as dean of UC Hastings Law, I have had the honor of congratulating and celebrating the achievements of so many of our talented graduates. These include state and federal judges, law firm partners, public interest lawyers, city, state and federal prosecutors, local and federal public defenders, corporate counsels, and local, state and federal elected officials. But today it is my singular honor to congratulate our extraordinary graduate, Kamala Harris ‘89, on being the Vice-President-Elect of the United States.
Vice-President-Elect Harris was a leader during her time at UC Hastings, serving as President of the Black Law Students Association. She went on to distinction as San Francisco District Attorney, California Attorney General, and United States Senator. In the Senate, she became known for her trenchant cross-examination of witnesses while serving on the Judiciary Committee.
As we expect of all of our graduates, Vice-President-Elect Harris took the legal education she received at UC Hastings and built a remarkable and fulfilling career.
She is the first woman, the first Black person, the first person of South Asian descent, to be elected to this high office. This accomplishment is historic and profound.
She is also the first graduate of UC Hastings to reach this office!
Vice-President-Elect Harris is an attorney well-versed in the principles of constitutional democracy. We can expect that she and President-Elect Joseph Biden will devote themselves to restoring the United States to a position of respect and moral leadership in the world. We can hope, too, that they will unify our country to become a more inclusive, a more cohesive, and a more respectful community, a community of shared ideals and common purpose.
Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have exhorted our country to be “as a city upon a hill.” President-Elect Biden, Vice-President-Elect Harris, and all of us, have an opportunity to live up to these words. In August 1963, Martin Luther King proclaimed in his “I Have a Dream” speech:
“When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Fifty-seven years later this promissory note has still not been fulfilled to all of the people of our nation. It is to this end that posterity will judge us and to which we must continue to commit our energies.
I am confident that Vice-President-Elect Harris will be instrumental in helping this great nation fulfill its promises to all of its citizens. We are proud to call her one of our own.
David L. Faigman
Chancellor and Dean
John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law