It’s no secret that the United States Senate has often been referred to as one of the last bastions for Caucasian men of privilege. To date, nine Blacks have served in the U.S. Senate beginning in 1870 when Hiram Revels was elected by the Mississippi State Senate. During that time, state legislatures elected U.S. Senators and Hiram, a man described as “a colored man, a minister who was presumed to be a Republican, believed to be a man of ability and considerably above the average in point of intelligence,” was seated as the first Black Senator.
Revels served for one year and he was followed in 1874 by Blanche Bruce of Mississippi who served from 1875 to 1881. Another century would pass before Edward Brooke of Massachusetts would be elected by popular vote in 1967.
He would serve two terms. The glass ceiling in the Senate would be broken 123 years later by Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman elected to the Senate in 1993 from the State of Illinois. And we will never forget that it was the fifth Black Senator, Barack Obama from the State of Illinois who would go on to become the 44th President of the United States.
And now, the great state of California; the first state to send two women, Barbara L. Boxer (D-Calif.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to the Senate simultaneously and one-of-three states currently represented by two women is poised to elect by popular vote the second Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. And that Black woman is Kamala D. Harris.
Kamala Harris, 51, the astute State Attorney General, bold leader, is running for the California Senate seat to succeed Barbara L. Boxer. This seat is the state’s first open Senate seat since 1992. Her opponent, Loretta Sanchez, is an Orange County Congresswoman and a fellow Democrat. According to the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll, Harris leads by a two-to-one margin over her opponent. We believe that the election of Harris is vital for the State of California and for Black Americans across this country and it’s not just because she is Black.
There is no better political resume than that of Kamala Harris. She has served as District Attorney in San Francisco and won two terms as California’s Attorney General. Described by most as “eloquent and insightful,” Harris has worked to reduce recidivism among young offenders, working with local businessman to secure job opportunities for a population most would have written off. She said “it was time to rock the crime pyramid” and she did. While some wanted Harris to offer a bolder plan, she decided to offer a blueprint for redirecting nonviolent offenders, working from the inside out. She expanded her Back on Track L.A. program that connected inmates with services such as therapy, health care, child support, education, and job training. It was Harris who developed statewide policies regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers, instituted new training on racial profiling and implicit biases, hot issues across the country that left many police departments playing catch-up.
For Harris, marriage equality, health care, homeowners reform – providing mortgage relief to thousands of Californians who were underwater and gun violence, is a dedicated public service. Not one to showboat, Harris declares that she is a fighter who knows and understands that the path to victory to fairness and justice is paved with activists and insiders. “Here’s the bottom line. I am trying to change the system from the inside. They (activists) are trying to change the system from the outside. And together, change will occur,” Harris said.
An ardent supporter, President Barack Obama said this of Harris, “She is brilliant, and she is dedicated, and she is tough.” And toughness is what Black Americans need in the Senate and what America needs to foster change in a system that this election has shown is broken and in need of new ideas, fresh blood, and persons who can quite frankly forge partnerships as oppose to operating as a fear monger.
For Harris, passing legislation to prevent gun violence will be a top priority. “Congress’ failure to control the sale of guns is shameful. We need to prevent dangerous people from obtaining guns,” said Harris. She knows that the criminal justice system is draconian and must change. Harris gets that this country cannot force more than 11 million undocumented immigrants to live and work in the shadows. And Harris knows that Obamacare has provided access to health care for millions of Americans. She has pledged to “fight any attempts to repeal the law.”
Kamala D. Harris, candidate for the United States Senate, has shown us that she’s the one. She is a crime fighter, a protector of families, the intelligent one, a possessor of extraordinary skill, and one who has a servant’s heart. She is a vote of a lifetime.