Kamala Harris on Civil Rights

Democratic candidate for President; California Senator


Biden worked with racist senators to oppose busing

Q: [Biden commented the week prior to the about the loss of Senatorial comity & noted that he worked with Senators he disagreed with, including working with two segregationist Senators on busing. Biden said, "At least there was some civility. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done."]

Sen. HARRIS: I'm going to direct this at Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you [on] to the importance of finding common ground. But it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two senators who built their reputations on segregation. You also worked with them to oppose busing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. That little girl was me. So I will tell you that, on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Federal government protects civil rights when states fail

Sen. Kamala HARRIS: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then [in the 1970s]?

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.

HARRIS: There was a failure of states to integrate public schools. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley public schools.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision.

HARRIS: That's where the federal government must step in. That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That's why we need to pass the Equality Act. That's why we need to pass the ERA, because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Legalize sex work, but fight trafficking and abuse

When I was DA, I instituted a number of policies that focused on women and children and how they were treated with bias in the criminal justice system without really looking at the real offender: the pimps and the johns. We really need to focus on the other folks and not just on the women. We should not be criminalizing women who are engaged in consensual opportunities for employment. But we should definitely be careful and be sure that they are not being trafficked or abused in any way.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020: 5 candidates back-to-back , Apr 22, 2019

Women's issues are really about everyone

We need to pass the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment. Women are paid on average 77 percent to the dollar. And then if you look at African American women and Latinas, even less, for doing the same work. We should reject the conversation that women's issues are just for women to be concerned about, when the reality is that when you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up the economic status of families and communities and all of society.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020: 5 candidates back-to-back , Apr 22, 2019

Ally of LGBTQ community; must end discrimination

I have been an ally of the LGBTQ community. We must have a country that agrees that no group should be treated without equality under the law. On day one would pass the Equality Act to make sure that we give LGBTQ people equal rights under the law. On the issue of transgender rights, we have a president who wants to kick them out of the military because they are transgender. It is absolutely unconscionable. And that is something I would reverse immediately when I am elected president.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020: 5 candidates back-to-back , Apr 22, 2019

Supports commission investigating reparations for slavery

At Al Sharpton's National Action Network convention in New York City, most of the 2020 contenders affirmed their support for a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for African-Americans. "When I am elected president, I will sign that bill." Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told Sharpton.
Source: CNBC: 2019 National Action Network & 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 5, 2019

Reparations raise a public health issue

If we start to examine what have been the outcomes of the history of slavery and legal segregation and discrimination, when people have experienced trauma, and it has been undiagnosed and untreated, you will see certain public health outcomes. And so if you recognize the trauma that existed, and we want to end what are avoidable health outcomes, you need to put resources--and direct resources, extra resources--into those communities that have experienced that trauma."
Source: NPR Morning Edition, "Election 2020: Opening Arguments" , Mar 14, 2019

Reparations means real investments in black communities

Elizabeth Warren said that Native Americans should be "part of the conversation" on reparations for African-Americans. Her fellow 2020 hopefuls Kamala Harris and Julian Castro have come out in favor of reparations for African Americans but have so far not gone as far as Warren in opening the door to reparations for Native Americans.

"We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities," Harris said in the statement. "I'm serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities."

Since reparations are in response to African-Americans impacted by slavery, presumably reparations for Native Americans would be to make amends for crimes and abuses committed on the Native population by the U.S. government over America's history.

Source: Fox News on 2020 Democratic primary hopefuls , Feb 23, 2019

Rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day

Sen. Kamala Harris said that she would push for the federal government to rename Columbus Day "Indigenous Peoples' Day," a focal point for some progressives who say the holiday should emphasize the history of Native Americans instead of the European conqueror. "Sign me up," Harris said in response to a voter's question of whether she would support the initiative to rename the holiday. She spoke of her own efforts in the Senate to make lynching a federal crime.

Harris's competitor, Sen. Cory Booker, was asked the same question in New Hampshire Sunday, but did not commit to renaming the holiday. "I'd like to talk more about why you think it's important on a federal level," Booker told voters. "My commitment to you and indigenous peoples is to tell the truth, to work to address the issues, and to find a way to have real recognition and healing."

Source: Buzzfeed blog on 2020 Democratic primary hopefuls , Feb 18, 2019

Reparations for blacks should include HBCU and reforms

Harris touched on race and mass incarceration, leading to broader discussions of her agenda for African Americans. When asked, the senator said she is in favor of some form of reparations.

"We have got to recognize [that] people aren't starting out on the same base in terms of their ability to succeed," she said. "So we have got to recognize that and give people a lift up."

As she outlined her agenda--highlighting plans for historically black colleges and universities, tax proposals to address poverty and criminal justice reforms--Harris defended President Barack Obama when asked about African Americans who say the former president didn't do enough for the black population.

"None of us can do enough. And we all know that," Harris said. "If you are a parent raising a child, you know we can never do enough. As leaders, we can never do enough. It's important to acknowledge that. But let's also give people credit for what they have accomplished."

Source: Politico.com, "Legalization," on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Feb 11, 2019

Let transgender people access the bathroom of their choice

Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Jan 21, 2019

Calling it "identity politics" marginalizes our issues

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Kamala Harris and the Democratic Party have been, for decades, defending divisive politics. The Democratic Party has been divided along race and class.

(VIDEO CLIP from the Netroots convention in New Orleans): SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): I'm aware that some people would say that is playing "identity politics." But I have a problem with that phrase, "identity politics." Its purpose is to minimize and marginalize issues that impact all of us.

SANTORUM: The Democratic Party has been focused on different voter groups, whether it's blacks or Hispanics or whether--you name it, and they have tried to divide this country along those lines, along class, it's been a warfare game for them. Trump is taking them at their own game. I didn't like it on either side. I can understand why they are upset. I don't like it either.

Source: CNN 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Aug 5, 2018

Judicial appointments should reject separate but equal

What we have to lose is a court system that is supposed to be impartial and unbiased. But I'll tell you all, I sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I have been presented with a parade of anti-civil rights nominees who are getting lifetime appointments on our courts. And let's be clear--if you don't agree that Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly, my perspective is that you've got no business deciding any other case on any other court.
Source: Press release on National Action Network speech , Apr 20, 2018

Fight for equal rights for all

From my first days as a prosecutor in Alameda County, to my work as San Francisco District Attorney, to my current service as California Attorney General, I have worked to bring smart, innovative, and effective approaches to fight crime, fight for consumers, and fight for equal rights for all.

I want to be a voice for Californians on issues that impact our state in the U.S. Senate.

Source: 2016 Senate campaign website, KamalaHarris.org , Apr 1, 2015

Ensure marriage equality for all Californians

She has fought to reduce elementary school truancy in California, preserve the state's natural resources, and ensure marriage equality for all Californians. She has also worked with the technology industry to improve online privacy and safety.
Source: 2016 Senate campaign website, KamalaHarris.org , Apr 1, 2015

Eliminate "gay panic" tactic for criminal defendants

Legislative Counsel's Digest: A "gay panic" or "trans panic" defense allows a criminal defendant to claim that the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity provoked them to violence. This outrageous tactic sends the message that violence against members of the LGBT community is understandable or acceptable. These defense tactics also hurt survivors and loved ones of victims by asking the jury to find that the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity excuses the defendant's actions. AB 2501, the first bill of its kind in the nation, eliminates "gay panic" and "trans panic" as a tactic for criminal defendants, ensuring that attacks on members of the LGBT community can be seen for what they are.

Legislative Outcome: Co-sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris; 8/26/14: Passed Senate, 25-9-6; 8/27/14: Passed Assembly, 58-15-6; signed by Governor Brown

Source: California legislative voting records for AB 2501 , Aug 27, 2014

Maintain LGBT health info on federal websites.

Harris signed Letter from 19 Senators to President Trump

We write to you to express serious concerns about the removal of critical LGBT health and scientific information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website, and the removal of LGBT population-based data reports from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website. These actions reveal a pattern of censorship that fosters discrimination and undermines access to evidence-based health care resources that aid millions across the country.

Administration officials claim that this online information is integrated elsewhere, being updated, or temporarily down for maintenance. We have seen previous Administrations undermine LGBT health due to ideological pressure from conservative organizations by abruptly deleting online health information--similarly under the guise of site maintenance.

You have repeatedly broken your campaign promises to support and protect the LGBT community, and this latest assault on a vulnerable population could further compromise the health of more than ten million LGBT people. We are concerned that you are putting politics ahead of science and access to evidence-based health care that is critical for millions, and so we call on you to reverse course to ensure that our federal programs serve the needs of all people.
Source: Letter from 19 Senators to President Trump 18LTR-LGBT on Apr 12, 2018

Other candidates on Civil Rights: Kamala Harris on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Larry Hogan (D-MD)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Gov.Bill Weld (R-MA&L-NY)

2020 Withdrawn Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
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Page last updated: Aug 02, 2019