Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and acclaimed Tallahassee civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump sat down on the week of the anniversary of the March on Washington to discuss civil rights as they pertain to the current state of the racial climate in the United States.
Although the March on Washington took place over 50 years ago, Harris put one of the main motives of the event — freedom — into a modern day context.
“Part of the point of freedom is to be free from brutality, to be free from injustice, to be free from racism and all of its manifestations,” Harris said. “The inequities are front and center — they are as real today as they were when John Lewis marched with Dr King.”
A challenge in the battle for freedom is the fight against systemic racism — a fight that forces citizens to confront the hatred and oppression that is deeply rooted in our society’s, laws, and institutions.
One institution that is notorious for perpetuating the racial, economic and political disparities that harm the Black community is the criminal justice system.
“When we speak the name of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmuad Arbery … we speak their names to not only acknowledge their existence but to highlight their value … in a country that devalues Black life,” Harris said.
When asked by Crump what could be done to change the “pain of police brutality into policy,” Harris turned the mic to those that work in the system.
“We have to require accountability and consequence,” Harris said. “Are we holding the system and the people who work in the system accountable?”
According to JoeBiden.com, one of the main highlights from Biden’s agenda for the Black community includes strengthening “America’s commitment to justice” through the implementation of multiple programs, including the expansion of the power of the Justice Department to “address systemic misconduct in police departments.”
Harris concluded the discussion by emphasizing the connection between economic opportunity and criminal justice reform and the importance that it has on marginalized communities in the country.
“If you go into an upper middle class suburb, you will not see the kind of police presence you see in other communities … you will see well funded schools … families where parents have jobs that pay them a living wage … folks who have access to healthcare that is affordable and available.” Harris said. “These are the things that you see in healthy communities and healthy communities are safe communities.”
Harris encouraged the public to legitimize its value of safety by also valuing the things that Dr. King and John Lewis fought for during their time.
“Fight for jobs. Fight for freedom. Fight for economic opportunities,” Harris said. “Put the resources there. When you put the resources there the other stuff takes care of itself,” she said.
“It is our responsibility to carry the baton that they have passed to us, to continue to fight for freedom,” Harris added.