“What’s up, Oakland?” Senator Kamala Harris began her speech at a large rally in her hometown of Oakland, California on Sunday. With this began Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign.
The streets during the event were crowded with thousands of people. According to the law enforcement officials, over 10,000 people attended the campaign, with another 12,000 packing the streets surrounding the venue.
The crowd cheered as soon as she started telling the story of her parents, Indian mother and Jamaican father, who came to the US to pursue educations and work.
“I’m so proud to be a daughter of Oakland,” she said, as the crowd cheered. “My parents came here in pursuit of more than just knowledge. Like so many others, they came in pursuit of a dream – for themselves, for me, and for my sister Maya.”
The event began with the national anthem sung by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and the pledge of allegiance, delivered by an elementary school-aged black girl. The people of color were placed front and center. Prior to Kamala Harris taking over the stage, a black pastor delivered the invocation and SambaFunk, a Bay area arts collective representing the African diaspora performed.
The first part of the speech was dedicated to her 25-year legal career as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general.
“It was just a couple of blocks from this very spot nearly 30 years ago as a young district attorney, I walked into a courtroom for the first time and said the five words that would guide my life’s work: Kamala Harris for the people,” she said. “My whole life I’ve only had one client, the people.”
“‘For the People’ meant fighting for a more fair criminal justice system at the height of the War on Drugs by creating a first-of-its-kind initiative to allow first-time offenders to get skills and job training instead of jail time – at a time when re-entry and prevention and redemption were not in the vocabulary or mindset of most district attorneys,” she said.
Kamala Harris criticized the Trump administration for its anti-immigrant policies, including migrant family separation.
“We are at an inflection point in the history of our world,” Harris said. “We are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question: Who are we? Who are we as Americans?”
She also addressed various issues from gender pay gap to climate change to raised drug prices by pharmaceutical companies and global authoritarianism.
Harris promised to give healthcare as a human right with Medicare for All, education as a right with universal pre-K and debt-free college and boost struggling families with “the largest middle- and working-class tax credit in a generation.”
She also promised to open doors for refugees and provide a way to citizenship to the DACA recipients.
Kamala Harris is aware of the challenges she will face during her campaign.
“We know what the doubters will say. It’s the same thing they’ve always said: they’ll say, it’s not your time … they’ll say it can’t be done. But America’s story has always been written by those who can see what can be, unburdened by what has been,” she said.
The huge crowd looked and sounded enthusiastic about the first-term Senator’s story and message.