Lead Story Politics West Edition

Kamala Harris comes to town promoting her new book

Senator does not address rumors about running for president

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris visited the Wilshire Ebell Theatre

Jan. 13 as part of her whirlwind tour to promote her memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” and a children’s book, “Superheroes are Everywhere,” capping her four-city book tour in front of a capacity crowd.

“To be in your home state — it’s so good to be home,” Harris said.

During the casual armchair talk, moderated by author Cleo Wade and sponsored by Writers Bloc Presents, Harris was in high spirits during the nearly two-hour chat, sharing tidbits about her personal and professional lives. 

National buzz has been generating about whether Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney who also served as California attorney general, plans to run for president in 2020.

Wade alluded to the rumors by asking how the senator would “bring the country together” if she were elected president.

Harris responded that unifying the country would be her main goal.  

“We must eliminate the division among ourselves,” she said. “We have to hold in our hearts, souls and minds this truth of who we are because we have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Harris, who has passionately supported a number of issues, including immigration, women’s rights, health care, national security and legislation against prescription drugs, alluded to the fact that although the country is progressing, it is still lagging behind on issues of social justice and civil rights.

Women’s health issues were a particular concern, a topic she said that has been woefully ignored.  

“Black women in America are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth, so there is racial bias implicit in the health care system,” she said.

Harris said that the public should remain optimistic despite the turmoil currently going on in Washington. 

“The government is in a shutdown,” she said. “We have been meeting with people for the past 22 days about how they are going to pay their bills, including members of the TSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — people who are in charge of our national security.”

Harris scoffed at President Donald Trump’s prolonged attempts to build a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico. “He is holding America hostage over his vanity project,” she said.  “I was [California] attorney general for two years. A wall is not going to stop [immigrants].”

Harris was thrust into the national spotlight when she grilled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions during committee hearings, earning her a reputation for being a sharp interrogator.

With a background rooted in the civil rights movement, Harris has fought passionately for issues she believes in. 

In 2008, when California voters approved Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California, Harris defied state law by declaring that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution, taking her argument all the way to the Supreme Court.

She also scored a huge victory in 2012 when she confronted five banks that were engaged in predatory lending practices, prompting the state Legislature to pass the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights. The Legislature eventually approved an historic $25 billion national mortgage settlement that the “big five” banks agreed to. 

She introduced legislation to get rid of the cash bail system, which unfairly penalized poor people by saddling them with high bail fees. 

Along with Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, Harris co-sponsored a bill to make lynching a federal crime. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, but has yet to become law. The House failed to take it up before Congress adjourned, which means that the bill must be reintroduced in order to pass both chambers.

She also alluded to how Congress attempted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act for political purposes.

“They tried to get rid of health care but the late, great John McCain cast the deciding vote by voting ‘No,” Harris said.

She pointed her finger at the government’s attempts to enact civil rights abuses such as babies being snatched from their mother’s arms at the border.

The daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris said that her biggest inspiration was her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who died in 2009.

“My mother was a phenenomal human being,” Harris said, adding that her mother was a breast cancer researcher.

“She was a real warrior for women’s health issues. She would get so mad at the lack of resources going into women’s health issues.”

She said that her mother taught her to believe in herself and to be independent at a very young age.

“She told me, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you who you are. You always tell them who you are.’ Pausing, Harris said, “I would not be here today if it weren’t for my mother.” 

As for the future of the country, Harris declared, “We must create a vision of the future so that everyone can see themselves — that’s so important.”

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer