Kamala Harris: Possible history in the making

Laila Samphilipo, Editor-in-Chief of The Prowler

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has pitched herself as a history-making candidate who can instigate radical change in America. 

Born in Oakland, Calif., Harris is a graduate of Howard University and earned her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. 

She then pursued a career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Calif., followed by a career at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she led the Career Criminal Unit. Harris served two terms as District Attorney of San Francisco after defeating a two-term incumbent, making her the first woman in Calif. to hold such a position. 

In 2016, Harris was elected into the U.S. Senate, making her the second black woman in history to do so. 

Harris continues to challenge the current American political scene, being the first black woman to announce her candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, strategically publicised on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Her platform is particularly focused on historically marginalized groups like women, people of color and low-income Americans.

As written on her website, Harris claims to be “A fearless advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable,” having co-sponsored legislation to reform the cash bail system, provide tax cuts for the middle class, raise the minimum wage and expand access to health care. 

Harris has also fought to require for-profit companies to provide employees with health insurance that provides access to contraceptives and protect their rights to utilize reproductive health clinics.

She is outspoken about her beliefs in regard to attacks on women’s reproductive freedom. 

“There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care,” Harris said at the Oct. Democratic Presidential Debate. “And it is not an exaggeration to say women will die. Poor women, women of color, will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies.”

Harris has also been outspoken about the rights of vulnerable children in America. Aside from her career as District Attorney, in which she focused largely on cases of child sexual assault, Harris established California’s Bureau of Children’s Justice.

Throughout her career, Harris has advocated for reform in the criminal justice system. According to her website, Harris “established the first Office of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry and pioneered the nation’s first open data initiative to expose racial disparities in the criminal justice system.”

However, during her time as Attorney General, she declined to support various ballot measures to repeal the death penalty, legalize marijuana, reform Calif.’s three-strikes law and make drug posession a misdemeanor charge. 

These discrepancies between her words and actions allowed for opponent Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to confront Harris at the second Democratic Presidential Debate over her record as Attorney General. Subsequently, Harris has fallen in the polls and steadily stands at around 5 percent.