UPDATED: 7:30 p.m. EDT — Kamala Harris made her presidential bid official on Sunday when she formally announced her candidacy during a rousing speech in front of thousands of fans in her hometown of Oakland, California. The historic declaration could be the beginning of a campaign that ends with the first Black woman becoming the leader of the free world.
The Democratic U.S. senator from California used the speech to not just declare her candidacy but also to speak “the truth” and answer her critics while taking a few shots at Donald Trump and the current administration’s policies that she said she would improve or, in some cases, reverse were she to be elected president.
On her past work as district attorney of San Francisco, a job for which she’s been scrutinized over not being progressive:
“I knew our criminal justice system was deeply flawed. But I also knew the profound impact law enforcement has on people’s lives, and it’s responsibility to give them safety and dignity. I knew I wanted to protect people.”
On the economy:
“Let’s speak another truth about our economy. Women are paid on average 80 cents on the dollar. Black women, 63 cents. Latinas, 53 cents. And here’s the thing. When we lift up the women of our country, we lift up the children of our country. We lift up the families of our country. And the whole of society benefits.”
On social justice:
“Let’s speak the truth that too many unarmed black men and women are killed in America. Too many black and brown Americans are locked up. From mass incarceration to cash bail to policing, our criminal justice system needs drastic repair. Let’s speak that truth.”
“And folks, on the subject of transnational gangs, let’s be perfectly clear: the President’s medieval vanity project is not going to stop them.”
Watch Harris’ historic speech in full below and read the full text here.
California’s Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted an invitation for supporters to join her Sunday afternoon in Oakland where she planned to announce her 2020 presidential campaign. This comes on the heels of a fundraising gala Friday night with her Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority sisters.
“Tomorrow’s the day! Join me in my hometown of Oakland as we kick off our campaign to build an America where leaders fight for all people, not just big corporations or their self-interests,” Harris tweeted on Saturday.
The event marks the formal launch of Harris’ campaign, and it was expected to draw thousands of supporters, KPIX reported. She had previously announced her intention to compete for the Democratic nomination on the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.
The Oakland native is a Howard University graduate who earned a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. Elected in 2016 to the U.S. Senate, she is only the second African-American woman senator, and the first African American and the first woman to serve as California Attorney General.
On Friday, she made a stop at South Carolina’s state fairgrounds where thousands of people came out to support her campaign fundraiser, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In her speech, she praised the AKAs and underscored that the organization “stand(s) on the shoulders of women who were leaders who 111 years ago said to us that we must honor sisterhood and we must honor service,” adding, “My mother taught us long ago, she would say to me, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.’”
Harris’ path to the Democratic Party’s nomination runs through the South, the Chronicle said, noting that the senator “has been quietly courting Southern voters for more than a year.”
Indeed, the network of more than 100 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), clustered mostly in the South, and alumni throughout the nation could help push one of their own deep into the 2020 presidential Democratic primary race.
Winning the Palmetto State’s primary could be key to the nomination. South Carolina is scheduled to hold its primary on Feb. 29, 2020—one of the earliest contests on the calendar. More than 60 percent of Democratic voters in South Carolina are Black. The state is also home to eight HBCUs.