Stacey Abrams has become the first black woman to deliver a Democratic response to a State of the Union address, and her selection has been seen as a nod to the party’s future.
Introducing herself to the nation, the 45-year-old lawyer combined her party’s vision of a more unified society with her personal story as a black daughter of the Deep South.
"These were our family values: faith, service, education and responsibility," she said, arguing for "this uncommon grace of community."
"We do not succeed alone," she added. "In these United States, when times are tough, we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us."
Ms Abrams was an unusual choice for the high-profile role in that she currently holds no elected office, having narrowly lost a controversial race for the governorship of Georgia in November.
She had previously been elected to Georgia’s state legislature in 2006, and has also written eight romantic novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery.
Ms Abrams also has a law degree from Yale, and a masters from the University of Texas, and is considered a rising star within the Democratic Party.
Had she won the Georgia race she would have been the first black female state governor in US history.
She lost to Brian Kemp, her Republican opponent, after a protracted challenge over voting regulations.
Ms Abrams refused to concede on election night and accused Mr Kemp of using his previous post, as Georgia’s secretary of state, to deny thousands of voters access to the ballot box.
A group backed by her has since launched a legal action claiming the state of Georgia deprived many low-income people and minorities of their voting rights.
During the campaign Ms Abrams had emphasised the importance of expanding health care to Georgia’s rural hospitals.
DuBose Porter, a former chairman of the party in Georgia, said: "She will talk about the issues that really do matter to working Americans and families, who Stacey Abrams speaks for more than anyone else I know."
Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader in the US Senate, said: "She is just a great spokesperson. She is an incredible leader. She has led the charge for voting rights, which is at the root of just about everything else. She knows what working people, the middle class, go through."
The selection also reveals an important subplot at play concerning the 2020 election.
The party hierachy wants Ms Abrams to stand for a Senate seat in Georgia in 2020. That seat is currently Republican and without flipping it the Democrats have virtually no chance of winning control of the US senate.
Delivering the State of the Union response will give ss Abrams a launch pad for a senate campaign if she chooses to stand.
If she stands it could also help to bring out Democrat voters in Georgia for the Democrat presidential candidate, perhaps delivering the state’s 16 electoral college votes in the White House race.
The State of the Union response often raises the profile of ambitious politicians, although not always in a beneficial way.
Marco Rubio, the Republican senator, was widely lampooned for sneaking sips of water when he gave the response in 2013.
Little Marco and the water? https://t.co/A6nQ1RTHvV
— Paul Jones (@Ptjones1968) January 30, 2019