Senator Kamala Harris of California recently held a teleconference exclusively for HBCU student-media outlets.
Harris, an alumna of Howard University, planned the Oct. 8 call to spread access to her campaign through HBCU student journalists. The topics covered included Harris’ candidacy, her plans for the presidency and her own HBCU experience.
“We’ve got so much to talk about, but I’ll tell you a bit about my background,” said Harris. The senator explained her family’s history with Howard University and their involvement with civil rights.
“There are probably two things that shaped me into the person that I am today, and it’s my family and it’s Howard University,” Harris added.
Howard University’s motto, “truth and service,” taught Harris that service is a part of any career choice one makes. Harris’ campus involvement at “The Mecca” and its motto provided the framework for her political career and her campaign for president.
“The role of service that I chose to take was to recognize that we need to work out these systems that we know need to be reformed from the inside and from the outside,” Harris said. “But my whole life I’ve been fighting for the people and taking on those powerful people who misuse and abuse their power.”
After a speech on inspiration, plans for funding HBCUs and the importance of justice, the call opened up for questions. A Howard University student asked, “What is your response to critics who question your blackness and your authenticity as a black politician?”
The senator’s experience with her race being questioned dates back to her support of Obama’s campaign. Harris responded, “When people ask that kind of question, it really displays their lack of exposure to the diaspora and to what we know to be the range of who we are. I am a black woman in America and I am clear about who I am.”
Harris emphasized that the role of black journalists is to be an informant for all, especially the underexposed.
A question from Sarah Wilson, a journalist at Bethune Cookman University, led to a conversation about Harris’ plans for providing funds to all HBCUs. Harris reiterated that HBCUs are a priority and she plans to increase federal funding, cover tuition and fees for low-income students and require HBCUs to participate in federal programs. Harris plans to dedicate $60 billion to STEM education with the goal to encourage students to get into these programs and not worry about student debt.
Harris was also asked if she had advice for black media professionals who have to work twice as hard for half as much credit?
“There’s still a lot of educating to do,” she said. “Show people what can be, even if they’ve never seen it before. It is going to be the burden you carry to show them, and it is a heavy burden. But I will tell you, it’s worth it.”
The presidential candidate concluded with words of inspiration.
“We’ve got the courage, we’ve got the power of our voice and we’ve got a whole lot of people who we inspire and are encouraging us to take each and every step we take. Even if people have never seen it before, when you take that step, they’ll see it now. Let’s just keep marching.”
For more information on Kamala Harris’ campaign, visit kamalaharris.org.