Prince’s song Kiss played on the loudspeaker and everybody paused. A woman, with dyed purple hair, was handed the microphone and the moment she started mimicking Prince’s falsetto, you don’t have to be rich, people in Harris For The People shirts erupted with cheer.
With what started as a rally soon turned into a celebration as around 2400 people danced with excitement and anticipation for Senator Kamala Harris (D- California) to take the stage.
Delivered at Houston’s Texas Southern University, one of the nation’s largest historically black colleges, Harris spoke about the importance of trust, truth, and unveiled a bold, new campaign promise: making the largest investment into teacher’s salaries in United States’ history, if she were to become president.
She also made it clear her base isn’t just African-American women. Harris County is one of the most diverse counties in Texas, a county that overwhelmingly voted for Beto O’Rourke in the 2018 Senate race against Ted Cruz. So, when she finally took the stage, it was apparent who she was truly appealing to. All walks of life- from women in Hijabs to older white men- show support for Harris who promises to fight for the average working-class American.
On January 21st, 2019, Harris announced she will be running for President of the United States as Democrat. A daughter of the Civil Rights Movement, she was born from an Indian mother and Jamaican father in Oakland California, where racial tensions between the black community and the largely white police force helped shape her long-standing values of truth and justice.
If elected President, Harris would be the United State’s first woman president and the second president of color.
“I love being in Harris County!” the California Senator said as she took the podium on Saturday, the crowd holding up signs that read: This is Harris County. Then, she immediately addressed the state of the country’s politics, confidently stating, “we are better than this.”
Harris is open about her disdain for the current administration, but, as she would go on to say, she grew up with a mother who didn’t allow complaining. If she or her sister complained, her mother would respond with the question, “what are you going to do about it?” Leading to Harris’ response, “I decided to run for President of the United States.”
Harris believes one of the biggest problems in America right now is people’s lack of trust in their government. But in order to regain trust, politicians must start telling the truth. From there, Harris told what she believes as the truth: the economy in America is not working for working people.
If elected president, Harris will propose, “the biggest middle-class tax cut in American history”, which would include up to 500 dollars per month for each taxpayer, paying for it, “by repealing the Trump tax cut” the White House passed in 2017.
Harris went on to address the growing threat of climate change, police brutality, gun control, the family separation policy at the border and condemned racism, antisemitism, Islamaphobia and transphobia as, “they are all real and we have to actively combat it.”
Her speech was filled with optimism and unity. “The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us,” Harris said, “when we wake up thinking in the middle of the night, thinking about God, some people call it ‘the witching hour’, our thoughts have nothing to do with a political party.”
The highlight of her speech was about education and teacher’s salaries.
“We are a nation that pretends to care about education, but not so much the education of other people’s children,” she said, “our success as a country is a function of the two groups that raise our children: Family and teachers, and we aren’t paying our teachers their value.”
That’s why Harris unveiled an initiative to close the teacher pay gap, which, according to Harris, would be “the largest investment in teacher’s salaries in the history of the United States.”
Harris believes all great fights are born out of optimism. But the fact of the matter is America has never had a woman president. Some believe America is not equipped to have one.
Jaime Rodriguez, a Washington based Democratic political consultant, believes otherwise: “If you believe in a female president you have to support them,” he said after Harris’ speech, “You can’t say ‘this time around the other candidate is a better choice’. There is always the ‘this time around’ excuse. You’re either for a woman president or not.”
Sherry Browning, a local Harris County resident, remains hopeful that, “she will be the first female, let alone a black lady, to win the presidency. And I think she’s sincere, and just by her attending Texas Southern University, that spoke volumes as well.”
It’s clear why Harris would play Kiss before she goes on stage. You don’t have to be rich to vote for her, at least. As the democratic party gets closer to its primary election, Harris hopes the working class looks her direction. Harris’ popularity continues to rise even with big names joining the presidential race.
With the 2020 election around the corner, America waits and listens to see if Harris truly is for the people.
By Ryan Nickerson
Cover Photo: TSU Herald