California Senator Kamala Harris announced her candidacy for President of the United States to a massive crowd at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland on Sunday, January 27. People of all ages and races came from all over the state to hear her speak.
Pastor Demetrius Edwards spoke at the rally before Harris arrived, emphasizing the need for “Liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all.” In her speech, Harris explained that the reason why her campaign signs read “Kamala Harris for the People” as opposed to “Kamala Harris for the [victims of injustice]” was that all people suffered from the ramifications of injustice towards one group or another. She acknowledged that she didn’t always win, that she wasn’t perfect, but she said that more important than this was that she would never give up, and always work for the common good.
“I think she’s going to be our next President,” said San Francisco native Nick Panagopoulos. Some say that Harris, who was elected to the United States Senate in 2016, lacks experience in Washington. Panagopoulos agrees, but he thinks this is an advantage. “She doesn’t have a ton of baggage, so I think she’ll actually be able to get some things done.” Panagopoulos highlighted the importance of the 2020 election cycle, and explained this sentiment in terms of his concern about climate change. “If we don’t do something about climate change immediately, the planet will be over, so everyone needs to vote,” Panagopoulos said.
Green activist Irene Dick-Endrizzi shared this sense of urgency surrounding climate change. “I stand for clean air, clean water, clean soil, and we’re in a crisis,” she said. Dick-Endrizzi said she felt that “[Harris is] the most exciting person in … politics,” and would effectively combat climate change by rallying people and politicians.
Sunrise Movement volunteers Jackie Ali Cordoba and Zoe Cina-Sklar attended the rally to urge Harris to make campaign promises related to her plans to address climate change. “We’re here to see if Kamala Harris supports a Green New Deal, as outlined by Representative [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez,” said Ali Cordoba. Whereas other candidates have come forward supporting the Green New Deal, Harris has spoken positively of the legislation, but she hasn’t fully endorsed it. In addition, Cina-Sklar said, “If she’s really going to be a politician for the people, she needs to reject money from fossil fuel CEOs.” While Harris has pledged to reject donations from corporations, at this point she may still accept donations from executives of big oil companies.
[Harris] acknowledged that she didn’t always win … but she said that more important than this was that she would never give up, and always work for the common good.
Berkeley High School (BHS) Associated Student Body Vice President Mihika De Souza emphasized the importance of black and brown people running for President. “She is a woman of color … It’s really empowering to see someone who looks like you run for such a powerful position,” De Souza said. However, BHS alumna Dina Asfaha said she urged people of color to reconsider their support of Harris. She cited examples such as Harris breaking the state record in incarcerating black men, and keeping nonviolent offenders in jail. “She’s going to continue the oppression of the working class,” said Asfaha. BHS sophomore Canaan Pakter agrees with Asfaha. “Her record as a prosecutor is messy, and much further to the right than the policies she’s currently bandwagoning in the Senate,” Pakter said.
BHS Stop Harassing President Ella Miles-Urdan said that Harris, if selected as the Democratic Nominee for President, “would be able to hold her ground against people like Trump [in the general election].” Miles-Urdan bases her belief on the courage that Harris demonstrated during the Kavanaugh hearings.
French American International High School senior and Bay Area Student Activists (BAStA) Co-President Zoe Benjamin believes that a successful Democratic candidate for President should find themselves between the two opposite ends of the party: the “establishment” and the far-left. While qualifying that these are just her views and not necessarily those of BAStA, she said “We need to have a candidate in between those two sides, which I believe Kamala is.”