Kamala Harris

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Kamala Harris

Template:TOCnestleft Kamala Harris is the junior Senator from California, and probable Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2020. She was formerly San Francisco District Attorney.

Kamala Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, and is the sister of Maya Harris, and the sister-in-law of Tony West, and the niece of Sarala Gopalan.

Her parents are the late Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris.


  • Howard U., economics B.A. 1986
  • UC Hastings, J.D. 1989

Presidential Campaign

See Kamala Harris Presidential Campaign.


Sen. Kamala Harris is the potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate generating the most excitement among the black political elite, according to participants at the 2017 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation policy forum in Washington.

It’s still way too soon for endorsements — none of the major potential candidates are even in the race yet and elected officials say they’re more focused on the 2018 mid-terms than the next presidential contest — but Harris, a California Democrat who is in her first year in the Senate, has emerged at the center of attention.

In interviews with more than a dozen political insiders and CBC members here, Harris’ outreach to other political leaders, her attention to issues of importance to voters of color, her perceived ferocity, and even her status as a graduate of a historically black college — Howard University — were cited as reasons she’s emerged as an early, if far from prohibitive, favorite.

"You’re hearing Kamala, and Cory’s a distant second," James Williams, director of federal relations for Wayne State University and a former longtime congressional aide, said, referring to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.[1]

Clinton's heir

The influence of Center for a New American Security on the 2020 election, is being channeled through the campaign of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who has drawn heavily from its ranks to fill her line-up of foreign policy advisors. But given its status as the go-to fountainhead of Democratic foreign policy ideas, there is every chance its alumni could be part of another future Democratic administration.

Founded on the eve of what was thought to almost certainly be a coming Clinton presidency over a decade ago, CNAS has left its fingerprints all over the past ten years of Democratic foreign policy. With its bipartisan make-up and centrist approach, the think tank has served as a crucial wellspring for conventional foreign policy thinking that has shaped the actions and ideas of both the Obama administration and Clinton’s 2016 run.

Even as the American public has slowly turned against endless war, CNAS’ prescriptions have stayed soothingly familiar: Stay the course in ongoing wars, step up efforts to counter Russia, China and other adversaries, and dig deeper into the conflicts the United States has so far only dipped a toe into.

Though Clinton’s loss meant CNAS hasn’t had the influence over the halls of power it expected, a wide-open Democratic contest means a second opportunity. And it seems California Sen. Kamala Harris is its favored candidate, as her foreign policy advisory team is stocked with the think tank’s alumni and its co-founder.


CNAS was born during the Bush years as the foreign policy equivalent to the Center for American Progress: a liberal-to-centrist think tank that would double as a policy house for an eventual Democratic president. Established in 2007, CNAS came onto the scene as the Bush presidency was coming to a close and the Democrats battled it out to see who would replace him. The timing was symbolic, suggesting the eclipse of neoconservative foreign policy by a new, liberal era.

CNAS had another similarity to CAP: its Clinton connections. It had been founded by two former Pentagon officials under Bill Clinton’s presidency, one of whom was Michele Flournoy, and its board was stacked with that administration’s alumni: Clinton’s former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, his former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and longtime Clinton confidant and CAP President and CEO John Podesta. Aiming to be “strictly nonpartisan,” as Flournoy put it, CNAS also courted Republicans, and its board also featured Bush’s former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Hillary Clinton herself delivered the keynote speech at CNAS’s inaugural forum, speaking about the threat of “nuclear terrorism,” highlighting the challenges of a “rising China,” and calling for military intervention in Darfur. As the New York Times noted, CNAS looked “an awful lot like a shadow policy apparatus for HillaryClinton’s presidential campaign.”

At the time, Flournoy and the CNAS were described as a new batch of “liberal realists,” who crafted foreign policy supposedly based on pragmatism, not ideology—and stood on the opposite side of progressives who wanted to scale back U.S. involvement in the world. The United States, she explained in 2007, is a force for good in the world. Flournoy appeared to hold this view years later, telling the Council on Foreign Relations in 2013 that the United States “still has an indispensable leadership role to play” because “no other country” can “put together international coalitions to solve shared problems the way we can.”

Flournoy has a long history inside the foreign policy establishment. Under Bill Clinton, she cut her teeth as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction, and as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. While there, Flournoy helped draft the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review, which, among other things, “determined that U.S. forces must be capable of fighting and winning two major theater wars nearly simultaneously.” This two-war doctrine, arguably obsolete even during the post-Cold War moment in which the review was drafted, would eventually be jettisoned by the Bush administration. Flournoy came to agree, though only because its focus on ground war was incompatible with an age of more frequent air and sea power.

Despite Clinton’s primary loss in 2008, and her rival Barack Obama’s seemingly divergent approach to foreign policy, CNAS was neatly folded into the Obama general election campaign. The think tank had one of its first big victories when it helped push Obama away from the anti-war position he had campaigned on. While Obama had pledged during the primary race to start withdrawing troops from Iraq immediately upon entering office, with the CNAS having become “something like Obama’s foreign policy think-tank” in the words of the New Yorker’s George Packer, Obama now refined his position. He would instead adopt the Bush administration’s approach of staying the course in Iraq with no timetable for withdrawal. It was a significant early victory for CNAS, whose thinking would increasingly depart from the Obama administration over the following years.

Just as Obama handed his transition on domestic policy over to the Clintonites, allowing Podesta to staff the administration with various neoliberal appointees, he did the same on foreign policy. Obama named Flournoy and another former Clinton official, John White, to head his takeover of the defense department, and a host of others involved in CNAS found themselves on his list of national security personnel. Susan Rice, who would serve as Obama’s UN ambassador, was a CNAS board member, and in February, Flournoy would become the administration’s undersecretary of defense for policy.

Flournoy departed the administration in 2012, but Obama’s foreign policy continued to boast the CNAS’ imprint. Breaking his campaign pledge, Obama stayed the course in Iraq, only withdrawing troops by the end of 2011 because the Iraqi government refused to allow them to remain. He launched the disastrous war on Libya, further destabilizing the Middle East and North Africa, an action favored by Flournoy on humanitarian grounds, and pushed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, something long endorsed by the think-tank, and which Flournoy called “the most important thing” and “foundational” to the administration’s “rebalance” toward Asia. While such decisions can’t be solely attributed to CNAS, the fact that his administration boasted multiple officials associated with the think-tank points to its influence over Obama’s foreign policy.

Yet Obama also rejected the CNAS line at times, as made clear in a major 2016 report published by the think-tank. Titled “Extending American Power,” the report bore Flournoy’s name on its list of endorsers. With Flournoy rumored to be Clinton’s defense secretary pick, the report was interpreted by news outlets as a peek into a future Clinton foreign policy, one that would be markedly more aggressive than Obama’s.

Among the report’s prescriptions were to “significantly increase U.S. national security and defense spending,” approve the TPP as a counterweight against China, ensure the international campaign against ISIS “is scaled up substantially,” and reserve the military option for Iran. Some of these proposals ran expressly counter to Obama’s approach, calling for the United States to send lethal arms to Ukraine and militarily intervene in Syria, both moves he had been resisting to varying extents. The CNAS report also dabbled in domestic policy, praising the explosion of fossil fuel extraction under Obama for “offer[ing] significant strategic advantage that can help extend American power,” and calling for “balancing taxes and entitlements to put U.S. debt on a more sustainable trajectory.” All of this was at the service of maintaining “the longevity of a rules-based international system favorable to U.S. interests.”

Clinton’s loss to Trump prevented this vision from coming to fruition. But the 2020 campaign has given CNAS another chance to insert its influence into the halls of power.

Advising the Harris campaign

Despite the large 2020 field, Kamala Harris quickly emerged as the heir to Hillary Clinton’s political network. By July, she had locked down the second most big-money former Obama and Clinton donors after Joe Biden, and Clinton’s wealthy donor network in California and Florida, in particular, coalesced around the California Senator. When it comes to staff, Harris’ sister and campaign chair Maya Harris was Clinton’s 2015 senior policy advisor. Harris has also tapped Clinton’s general counsel Marc Elias, among other former Clinton staffers.

Harris has continued this pattern in the realm of foreign policy, stacking her team with CNAS personnel. One is David Cohen, Obama’s former under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence and then deputy director of the CIA, who is now the think-tank’s adjunct senior fellow focusing on technology and national security. Another is Matt Olsen, the former general counsel for the NSA and former National Counterterrorism Center director, both under Obama, who serves in an identical role at CNAS. Harris’ National Security Advisor Halie Soifer, who had served in that same role for Harris in the Senate, came out of the think tank’s Next Generation National Security Fellow program.

But the most notable name on Harris’ list of foreign policy advisors is Michele Flournoy, who founded CNAS, served as its president for two years, and was once expected to help lead U.S. foreign policy under a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

In 2002, while a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Flournoy endorsed Bush’s emerging doctrine of pre-emptive war.

“In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary's [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States,” she said then.

Flournoy laid out her views on the matter more fully in a June 2002 editorial for the Washington Post, co-written with Vince LaFleur, a former member of the National Security Council staff who was then a visiting fellow at the CSIS. Bush was “right to insist on preemption as a viable policy option,” they wrote, but wrong to treat it as the entire strategy, and more effort should be put into prevention, such as non-proliferation treaties. They noted the difficulties of applying a policy of pre-emption: the closer a country comes to developing a weapon of mass destruction, the harder it is to attack, but “the earlier a president wants to launch a first strike, the more difficult it will be politically.”

A year later, as the United States began its foray into Iraq, Flournoy warned the single-minded focus on the war was taking oxygen from other issues. “If we do nothing, North Korea will be a nuclear weapons power,” she said. “We should do everything in our power stop that.”

Under Obama, Flournoy “pushed hard” for military intervention in Libya, according to a 2011 Huffington Post profile of Flournoy. The Libyan adventure became arguably Obama’s greatest foreign policy blunder, the resulting anarchy creating a pipeline of arms to extremists across neighboring countries, and the country descended into ground zero for the migrant crisis while human slavery became a fixture. Even so, two years after former dictator Muammar Gaddafi had been deposed, Flournoy told the Council on Foreign Relations: “I think we were right to do it.”

Such a record helped Flournoy become the neoconservatives’ choice to replace Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2012. At the time, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel was the frontrunner to succeed Gates, a choice hated by the country’s war hawks due to Hagel’s criticism of the Iraq War, his affinity for diplomacy and engagement, and his distaste for economic sanctions. Faced with this choice, Flournoy was endorsed by neocons such as Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Jennifer Rubin, who cast a potential Flournoy appointment as a victory for diversity and feminism, despite the fact that Flournoy’s preferred policies had been destructive to the world’s population of women.

Under Obama, Flournoy had argued strenuously against the administration’s total withdrawal from Iraq, a view shared by the military brass, and she had pushed for a residual force to stay behind to no avail. She would later take a more aggressive line than the administration on several conflicts. She criticized the Obama administration’s ISIS policy for having “under-resourced” its “military dimensions,” called for greater U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war and urged the supplying of weapons to Ukraine. A 2016 report co-authored by Flournoy stated that “Washington and other capitals have not devoted sufficient attention to the threat posed by Russia and its implications for Western security,” and recommended “direct military assistance” to Ukraine “in far larger amounts than provided to date.”

After leaving the Obama administration, Flournoy bided her time, making recommendations from the outside while waiting to re-enter government under the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, whose campaign she was advising. She argued forcefully for passing the TPP, urging observers to “move beyond the usual economic arguments” over the deal and instead “consider the extraordinary geopolitical stakes involved.” She criticized the administration’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, by then already the longest war in U.S. history, and was one of 23 signatories calling on Obama to reverse course.

With domestic energy production emerging “as a new source of strength,” she urged Obama to rescind the “outdated and counterproductive” ban on domestic oil exports, a measure he took that has helped turn the United States into one of the world’s major fossil fuel exporters and sped up the climate crisis. She also called for a “broader and more intensive effort” against ISIS that involved giving arms to local tribes, ramping up the U.S. air war on the group, greater aid to the Syrian opposition, and even putting “boots on the ground” to fight them.

Almost all of these ideas would make their way into the CNAS’ “Extending American Power” report in 2016.[2]

Detroit Action webinar


With Bernie Sanders, Mary Kay Henry, Kamala Harris, Ai-jen Poo, Detroit Action October 2020.

San Francisco City Hall rally for Brandon Lee

Sfnewsfeed.us August 9, 2019 ·


With Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Eugene Bengan Gambol, Chrisanto Iska Ampar, Gordon Mar, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Claye Sanders, Digong Duterte ng Pilipinas, Eric Mar, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Filamstar Newspaper, Ichrp Norcal, Bayan Norcal, Rody Duterte, Friends of Brandon Lee, ICHRP-Canada International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, Malaya Movement, ICHRP SoCal, ICHRP Northeast, BayanUsa NationalAlliance, ICHRP US International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan San Francisco.

Presidential campaign staff

In February 2019 Sen. Kamala Harris added several women of color to her presidential campaign team.

Emmy Ruiz, a political strategist who served as Hillary Clinton’s state director in Nevada and Colorado in 2016, will be a senior adviser to Harris. Ruiz will counsel the campaign on electoral, political and field strategy.

Ruiz was a field director for the Democratic National Committee in Texas and Nevada in 2012 before serving as President Barack Obama’s Nevada state director during the general election. Her experience includes serving as political director of Annie’s List in Texas and campaign manager for comprehensive immigration reform at Organizing for Action.

Missayr Boker and Julie Chavez Rodriguez will serve as co-national political directors. Boker was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s campaign director in 2018, helping Senate Democrats’ campaign arm pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona. Boker has also served as assistant political director and PAC director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, where she managed issue advocacy campaigns and electoral strategy, and for an advocacy organization in Liberia that focused on reducing maternal mortality rates.

Rodriguez, the granddaughter of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, is moving over from Harris’ Senate office, where she had worked as California state director since 2017. She was a special assistant to the president and senior deputy director for public engagement for Obama, overseeing the White House’s engagement with LGBT, Latino, veteran, youth, education, labor and progressive leaders.

Amanda Bailey, who raised money for now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s finance director for the West, will be Harris’ deputy national finance director. Bailey previously served on finance teams for former Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Donna Edwards' (D-Md.) Senate campaign.

Rosa Mendoza and Joyce Kazadi will serve as Harris analytics and advance directors, respectively. Mendoza was the DCCC’s head of analytics and senior strategist. Kazadi was Axios’ partner engagement director and events director for Axios360. Kazadi was also national advance lead on Clinton’s 2016 campaign, producing events and executing trips in more than 20 contested states in the primary and general elections.

These women are among more than a dozen women of color in senior roles in Harris’ campaign, including campaign chair Maya Harris, deputy national political director Jalisa Washington-Price, senior adviser Laphonza Butler and deputy national press secretary Kirsten Allen.

The campaign said each woman will be involved in key decisions that are made throughout the race and that the hires reflect the California senator’s commitment to diversity.

“We value diverse backgrounds and experiences because they give our campaign vibrancy and fresh perspectives about the many challenges all Americans are facing,” said campaign manager Juan Rodriguez. “Senator Harris has a history of elevating and amplifying all voices to ensure that nothing is seen through only one narrow point of view.”[3]

The Harris campaign announced on January 21, 2019 that Marc Elias, Hillary Clinton's top lawyer, will be its general counsel; Lily Adams, Clinton's Iowa communications director and daughter of former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, will be its national communications director; Angelique Cannon, Clinton's deputy national finance director and national finance director for Senate Majority PAC, will be its national finance director; and David Huynh, Clinton's director of delegate operations and ballot access, will be its senior adviser.

Elias is currently general counsel for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is actively considering his own run for president.

Harris began stacking her Washington, D.C. congressional office with former Clinton campaign vets almost immediately after making her way to Capitol Hill.

In addition to Lily Adams, who was top press aide in the D.C. office, Harris brought in Sergio Gonzales as senior policy adviser. Gonzales was a regional director for Hillary for America.

Kate Waters, who worked as the deputy press secretary for Clinton's campaign during the Iowa caucus and as press secretary during the West Virginia primary, Iowa primary, and Nebraska caucus, was brought in as press secretary early in Harris's tenure, among other Clinton vets.

In July 2017 Harris's Senate campaign was renting office space from a small travel agency on Capitol Hill just a few minutes away from the Capitol and congressional offices. Harris's campaign never answered inquiries on why they were renting the office space 2,800 miles away from her home state.

As Harris tapped Clinton campaign vets to her D.C. office—and now presidential campaign—she has used progressive public relations firms to project her message.

Harris's presidential campaign's digital arm will be run by Authentic Campaigns, a D.C.-based full-service digital strategy company that was founded by Mike Nellis, former vice president of campaigns of Revolution Messaging LLC. Revolution Messaging was considered instrumental in propelling Sen. Bernie Sanders's candidacy against Clinton during the 2016 elections.

Harris has already paid Authentic Campaigns and Revolution Messaging millions of dollars from her Senate campaign committee for advertising and consulting services since entering Congress.[4]


Kamala Harris' score on a voting-record scale called the DW-Nominate ranks Harris as the second-most-liberal senator, behind only Elizabeth Warren.[5]


Kamala Devi Harris (born October 20, 1964) is an American attorney, author, politician, and the current District Attorney of San Francisco. She was first elected in 2003, defeating incumbent district attorney Terence Hallinan, and was re-elected in 2007. In the 2010 election cycle, she was a candidate for California Attorney General in the 2010 California state elections.

If she managed to win, she would be the first woman and first black, as well as holding the distinction of being the first Asian-American attorney general in California and the first Indian American attorney general in the United States of America owing to her Indian descent.

Kamala Harris' mother Shyamala Gopalan immigrated to America from her native India in the early 1960s. “I came to study at UC Berkeley,” she remembers. “I never came to stay. It's the old story: I fell in love with a guy, we got married, pretty soon kids came.” The guy she married was Donald Harris, who later became a Stanford economics professor.

Says Harris “My parents met back when they were students at UC Berkeley when they were active in the civil rights movement". [6]

Kamala was born in 1964; her sister Maya arrived two years later. The maternal side of the family has a tradition of public service. Shyamala's father was a high-ranking Indian civil servant; her mother was an upper-class feminist concerned that the women who did her laundry were the victims of domestic violence.

“In Indian society we go by birth,” Shyamala explains. “We are Brahmins, that is the top caste. Please do not confuse this with class, which is only about money. For Brahmins, the bloodline is the most important. My family, named Gopalan, goes back more than 1,000 years.”

By marrying an American, Shyamala was the first person to break the ancient Gopalan bloodline. The union collapsed when Kamala was 5. (“My father is a good guy, but we are not close,” she says.) Shyamala earned a doctorate in endocrinology from Berkeley and went on to become an internationally recognized expert in breast cancer research.[7]

As a child Ms. Harris used to visit Chennai, where her grandparents lived in the 1950s. Her mother Shyamala grew up in Chennai and came to the U.S for higher studies where she met Ms. Harris’s father.[8]

Harris served as Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California from 1990 to 1998. She then became Managing Attorney of the Career C riminal Unit in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. In 2000, San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne recruited Harris to join her office, where she was Chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division, which oversees civil code enforcement matters.

The Los Angeles Daily Journal recognized Harris as one of the top 100 lawyers in California. Harris serves on the board of the California District Attorney's Association and is Vice President of the National District Attorneys Association.

Harris ran unopposed for re-election in 2007. She was called a front-runner in her campaign being nominated to be Attorney General of California in 2010, and on June 8, 2010, she received the Democratic nomination for California Attorney General.[9]

In 1964, Shyamala Gopalan completed her PhD and gave birth to Kamala; her other daughter, Maya, followed two years later. Influenced by the activist community she had chosen, Gopalan made a conscious decision to raise her daughters as black. “She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls,” Harris explains in her book, “and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident black women.”

The Harris girls attended nursery school, and later an after-school program, in the home of Aubrey Labrie’s aunt, a Louisianan named Regina Shelton who papered her walls with posters of Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. “The first George Washington Maya and I learned about when we were young was George Washington Carver,” Harris writes. On Thursdays, “Shyamala and the girls” would head to the Rainbow Sign, a black cultural center where visitors could “learn Swahili, attend a book party for Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton, make a batik print, listen to Maya Angelou read from her book of new poems or pull an all-nighter at a jazz festival after-party.”

Harris’s mother and father continued their activism after her birth. “My parents often brought me in a stroller with them to civil rights marches,” she writes. “I have young memories of a sea of legs moving about, of the energy and shouts and chants.”

At one “peaceful” march, she writes, her mom and dad were “attacked by police with hoses”; she’s almost certainly referring to the events of May 14, 1960, the day San Francisco police officers used high-pressure fire hoses to clear out of City Hall’s cavernous rotunda dozens of clean-cut Berkeley students who had come to oppose a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee. At another “anti-war protest,” Harris continues, her parents were “confronted by the Hell’s Angels” — a clash that took place days before Kamala’s first birthday, on Oct. 16, 1965, when 16 burly bikers broke through a police line and attacked a Vietnam Day Committee march. Later, Gopalan and her friends were “forced to run for safety, with me in a stroller,” at yet another demonstration that turned violent. “I remember we were boycotting the chain stores — the local branch of Woolworth’s, that sort of thing — in support of the sit-in movement that had started in North Carolina,” says Aubrey Labrie. “And I remember Kamala was there, her parents pushing her back and forth.”

Before long, however, the Harrises left Berkeley — first for the University of Illinois in 1966, and then for Northwestern the following year. When Donald Harris took a tenure-track position at the University of Wisconsin in 1968, he and Gopalan decided to separate. The Harris women returned to California. For Gopalan, now a 30-year-old cancer researcher with two daughters, single parenthood and professional demands took precedence over protesting in the streets.

Yet from their initial residence with Donald Harris near campus, and later, from their yellow duplex on Bancroft Way between Browning and Bonar in Berkeley’s multiethnic, working-class flatlands, “Shyamala and the girls” would have absorbed, at close range, some of the most tumultuous events of the 1960s: the Free Speech Movement, the riots on Telegraph Avenue, the Third World Liberation Front. Harris’s childhood was racked by demonstrations, civil disobedience and even violence — much of it unfolding just blocks from her house.

The chaos culminated shortly before Kamala’s fifth birthday with the bloodiest confrontation in Berkeley history. In 1966, conservative Gov. Ronald Reagan had campaigned on a pledge to “clean up the mess in Berkeley”; when a group of radicals sought to establish a “People’s Park” on a patch of university property near campus — then clashed with police, leading to one death and more than 100 injuries — Reagan saw his chance to deliver. Dismissing the city as “a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants,” the governor dispatched 2,700 National Guard troops to patrol the Berkeley streets. As many as 6,000 protesters fought back.

In the story that Harris tells about herself, this is the spirit she inherited from Berkeley and carried with her when she left at age 12, bound for Montreal, where her mother had accepted a job teaching at McGill University. Harris often tells a joke about a time she fussed as a toddler. “What do you want?” her mother asked.

“Fweedom!” Baby Kamala yelled back.[10]

BWOPA connection


Black Women Organized for Political Action December 1, 2020 ·

Kamala, Dezie, BWOPA & The Rainbow Sign

Kamala Harris' history with BWOPA goes way back. || This audio clip is from a recent podcast episode released on 11/19 with BWOPA's founder, Dezie Woods-Jones and MSNBC's 'Into America' podcast. Dezie talks about the connection with Kamala Harris, BWOPA and the now closed Black Cultural Center, The Rainbow Sign in Berkeley founded in 1971. Today, BWOPA’s accomplishments are manifold. They are proud to have supported the rise of women such as Teresa Hughes, Diane Watson and Barbara Lee, to name only a few. And now, Kamala Harris, who frequented Rainbow Sign as a child, and whom BWOPA has supported throughout her career, is poised to potentially assume one of the highest decision-making positions in the nation. “There’s nothing like finally being able to see at the top of the ticket one of our own sisters,” Woods-Jones beams.[11] Kamala Harris remains a BWOPA member to this day.


Berkeley didn’t just teach Harris what outsiders could accomplish. It also taught her what they couldn’t accomplish. In doing so, it inspired her to become the last kind of insider her community could have expected.

Richard Sakai still sounds surprised today. In the 1980s, Sakai was a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and director of the school’s Legal Education Opportunity Program, an affirmative-action initiative for applicants from disadvantaged communities. Harris, who had her undergraduate degree from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., was part of this program.

Sakai first encountered Harris during LEOP orientation in 1986, where, sitting in the last row of the auditorium, she struck him as a “very quiet individual.” But Harris would soon defy Sakai’s expectations. First, she ran for and won the presidency of the Black Law Students Association in her second year; her initial reserve, Sakai realized, was really just an expression of her “very intense, very inquisitive” personality.

Then Harris accepted an externship with the Alameda County DA and decided to become a prosecutor.

“Only a very small percentage of our students went in that direction — less than 10 percent,” explains Sakai, himself a LEOP alumnus. “If you entered into the LEOP program, you were coming from an underrepresented community. The thinking was that it was your obligation, your duty, to go back and represent those communities. I know most of us felt that way. And so to turn around and become a prosecutor, it was like, ‘Wait a minute — whose side are you on?’”

Jeff Adachi felt the same way. The son of Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II, Adachi had tutored Harris at Hastings; later, when Harris served as San Francisco district attorney, he faced off against her as the city’s elected public defender.

“I recall that she went directly to the DA’s office,” Adachi told radio station KQED earlier this year. (Adachi died of a sudden heart attack in February.) “I was surprised. I was like, ‘You’re gonna be a DA?’

“It wasn’t something you would expect a woman of color to become — a prosecutor,” Adachi explained. He asked Harris why she was doing it.

“That’s how I’m going to change the world,” she said.

Kamala Harris, right, protests South African apartheid with classmate Gwen Whitfield on the National Mall in 1982

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Harris had already demonstrated an interest in wielding institutional power. At Howard, she may have occupied the administration building and protested apartheid “almost every weekend,” but she also represented her class on the Liberal Arts Student Council and interned for California Sen. Alan Cranston. And, crucially, she had grown up in pretty much the first American city where activists had done what she was now saying she wanted to do: take over the system and reform it from within.

While radicals were waging war on the authorities in Oakland, where gun-toting Black Panthers patrolled the streets, “monitoring” the local police, Berkeley chose a different path. There, activists were increasingly becoming the authorities. In 1967, a black antiwar socialist named Ron Dellums was persuaded to run, reluctantly, for the City Council; three years later, Dellums unseated the district’s longtime Democratic congressman. “My seat gave [activists] a voice within ‘the system,’” wrote Dellums, who went on to serve for the next 27 years as one of the most liberal members of Congress.

As the 1960s gave way to the 1970s, other “radicals” followed Dellums’s lead — and in 1971 they won their biggest victory yet. The national headlines told the tale. “The Guard Changes in Berkeley,” declared Ebony magazine. “Radical politicians use novel methods to make ‘System’ work.” Forging an unlikely and unprecedented partnership, young black leftists teamed up with a motley conglomeration of white hippie interest groups to elect the city’s first black mayor, Warren Widener, along with three additional council members.

“That was a really crucial inflection point for Berkeley,” says Scott Saul, a historian and critic at UC Berkeley who has studied how the city changed in the 1970s. “There are always going to be activists feeling the need to be on the outside because they don't want to compromise their vision. But you also start to see a lot of institutions being built with the capacity to change city politics. You see the activists starting to institutionalize their presence.”

The results of this shift were real. Shortly after the new City Council took office, disability activists successfully lobbied their new representatives to launch the world’s first citywide curb-cuts program. In 1973, the city established the Police Review Commission, one of the first civilian police-oversight agencies in the United States. That same year, Berkeley became the first rent-controlled city in California since World War II.

If you had to pinpoint the moment when Harris started to develop an awareness of politics, this would be it: when Berkeley became one of the only places in America where activists had figured out how to elbow their way into “the room where the decisions are being made,” as she likes to put it today.

“It’s a leap that I made, and that a lot of us made,” says Carole Norris, a longtime Berkeley tenants-rights activist who now chairs the city’s Housing Authority. (Norris is also the mother-in-law of Yahoo News Editor in Chief Daniel Klaidman.) “People like me saw that there’s only so much you can do from the outside, and that in order to make real, systemic change, you have to be on the inside.”

The issue for Harris, however, is that the room she decided to elbow her way into — the office of the top prosecutor in San Francisco and, later, the entire state of California — wasn’t the same thing as running for City Council, or mayor, or Congress. Becoming a prosecutor didn’t just mean that Harris would be going inside the system. It meant that she would be leading the very part of the system that progressives and people of color consider most discriminatory and destructive.

“Among the black law students, there was the feeling that you should do something for social justice — but then it broke down around ‘What is it you do?’” says Keith Wingate, one of Harris’s only black law professors at Hastings. “Now, personally, I didn’t want to be a prosecutor. You go to any major city and look at the criminal docket, it’s overwhelmingly black folks. My sense was that it was a systematic process, and I just wouldn’t have felt comfortable being involved in it.

“So I remember people saying that ‘if you’re a prosecutor, you’re putting black folks in jail,’” Wingate continues. “But others, like Kamala, had a more nuanced view. Their sense was, ‘Wait a minute: If you want to make sure people aren’t processed systematically without any concern for their position or where they came from — if you want a fair process — then you want some black prosecutors.’”

And so, as the Atlantic’s Michelle Cottle recently pointed out, Harris’s “demographic identity has always been radical.” She was the first female, black and Asian-American district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general of California, and only the second black woman ever to be elected to the United States Senate.

But did her radical identity lead to radical reforms? Cottle says no, arguing that Harris has instead avoided saying or doing much that could be held against her. As attorney general, she “declined to support two ballot measures to end the death penalty,” or to support legalizing marijuana or reforming California’s draconian three-strikes law. Harris “had power” but “kept most of it in reserve,” Cottle writes. “More important than fixing the broken criminal-justice system, it seemed, was protecting her status as a rising star.”

Jeff Adachi, the former San Francisco public defender, was equally skeptical of Harris’s “progressive prosecutor” branding — less because of any particular ambition on her part than because the system itself was so powerful.

“You have a person who comes in and says, ‘I can change the system by becoming the system,’” he told KQED. “But it’s a system because the people in power act according to its design. And if you’re a prosecutor, your job is to charge people with crimes and jail them.”

“Progressive prosecutor?” Adachi laughed. “I don’t even recognize that as a term.”

Harris’s defenders disagree, of course. They note that when a gang member killed a cop in her fourth month as San Francisco DA, she refused, as a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, to seek the death penalty, a stance that enraged the police and establishment Democrats. They point out that she pioneered a reentry initiative for young, low-level, first-time drug offenders. They argue that, on her watch, the California Department of Justice became the first statewide law enforcement agency in the country that required officers to wear body cameras. They mention that she implemented a “first of its kind” racial bias training program for police officers. And they say that she did all of this as a black woman at a time when “tough on crime” was the watchword and criminal justice reform had yet to become a mainstream cause.

“The standard prosecutor that black folks were used to was a white man or a white woman who didn't see them or what they had been through,” says Lateefah Simon, a longtime racial justice advocate who went to work with Harris in the DA’s office. “So it took a lot of convincing. I had developed a name for myself as a little radical, and I was like, ‘You want me to leave this thing that I built to, like, work for you in a place that I've been fighting my whole career?’ But Kamala said, ‘You can keep shutting down meetings and cursing and calling everybody pigs. Or you could come into this office and design a program to get people real opportunities and get them out of jail. This is the only carrot and the only stick that we have. Let's be creative. Let's figure it out.’"

For Simon, the experience was a revelation. “It really changed my perspective,” she says. “If you’re going to make institutional change, you have to have folks on the inside working with you to change those things. For me, she was a strategic ally. She, like me, and I, like her, wanted to make some change in a system that had never been run by a person of color, a woman of color. And that’s what we did. Kamala really set the stage for what we now think a progressive prosecutor can do, 15 years later.”[12]


Harris recalled at the Omega Psi Phi event July, that she first learned from her “heroes” back on Bancroft Way — heroes like her “Uncle Sherman,” who was married to Mary Lewis.

“My uncle Sherman, he was an extraordinary community and neighborhood lawyer,” Harris said onstage. “[He] helped raise us in a way that said, ‘Kamala, you can be anything you want to be, but you gotta be smart.’”

“So when I was a young girl,” Harris continued, “Uncle Sherman taught me to play chess. He said, ‘You need to know: Life is like that chessboard. There gonna be all kinds of players on that board. They’ll have all kinds of different moves. You have to think strategically. You have to learn to think about what that tenth move will be before you make that first move.

“‘And if you’re smart,’ he taught me, ‘that pawn can take out that king.’”[13]

Law to "change the world"

Inspired by the “heroes” of her childhood — from civil rights icons such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley to the “first generation of black lawyers” to emerge from her “community” in Berkeley — she decided to become a lawyer too.

But not just any lawyer.

“So my family gathered ’round and said, ‘OK, Kamala, so what are you gonna do in your fight for justice?’” Harris recalled. “And I got all excited and I said to them, ‘Well, I’ve decided to become a prosecutor.’”

“If you have any sense of who my family is, you will know that at best they found it a curious decision — and with some of them, I had to defend this decision like one would a thesis,” Harris said onstage July 2019 at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City to address members of Omega Psi Phi, one of America’s oldest black fraternities. “But what I said is, ‘Look, do we always and only have to be on the outside, trying to change it from the outside, banging down the door on bended knee? Can’t we always also be thinking about how we can be on the inside, where the decisions are being made?’”

Rich backers

In the summer of 1999, in the monied Napa Valley north of here, a bejeweled bride rode sidesaddle on a speckled horse into what the press would label “the Bay Area’s version of an outdoor royal wedding.” The lavish nuptials of Vanessa Jarman and oil heir Billy Getty—replete with red carpet, hundreds of flickering votives, and “a fair amount of wine,” according to one deadpan attendee—featured a 168-person guest list stocked with socialites and scions, philanthropists and other assorted glitterati.

This coterie of the chosen included, as well, a 34-year-old prosecutor who was all of a year and a half into her job in the San Francisco district attorney’s office. And she wasn’t just some celebrity’s all but anonymous plus-one. She was featured in the photo coverage of the hot-ticket affair, smiling wide, decked out in a dark gown with a drink in hand.

Kamala Harris,” the caption read, “cruised through the reception.”

Well before she was a United States senator, or the attorney general of California, Harris was already in with the in-crowd here. From 1994, when she was introduced splashily in the region’s most popular newspaper column as the paramour of one of the state’s most powerful politicians, to 2003, when she was elected district attorney, the Oakland- and Berkeley-bred Harris charted the beginnings of her ascent in the more fashionable crucible of San Francisco.

Harris used as a launching pad the tightly knit world of San Francisco high society, navigating early on this rarefied world of influence and opulence, charming and partying with movers and shakers—ably cultivating relationships with VIPs who would become friends and also backers and donors of every one of her political campaigns, tapping into deep pockets and becoming a popular figure in a small world dominated by a handful of powerful families.

In the mid- to late ’90s and into the aughts, the correspondents who kept tabs on the comings and goings of the area’s A-listers noted where Harris was and what she was doing and who she was with. As she advanced professionally, jumping from Alameda County to posts in the offices of the district and city attorneys across the Bay, she was a trustee, too, of the museum of modern art and active in causes concerning AIDS and the prevention of domestic abuse, and out and about at fashion shows and cocktail parties and galas and get-togethers at the most modish boutiques.

Because three years after the Getty wedding, in mid-2002, Harris called Mark Buell. She knew him because Harris was friends with his stepdaughter, Summer Tompkins Walker, the daughter of Susie Tompkins Buell, the major Democratic donor. Harris told him she wanted to run for district attorney. At first, Buell was skeptical, he said recently when we got together for dinner at an old Union Square haunt called Sam’s; he considered Harris “a socialite with a law degree,” he explained over salmon and sauvignon blanc. The more Harris talked, though, the more impressed he became. By the end of their conversation, Buell offered to be her finance chair. His first piece of advice: To knock off an incumbent in what would be a nasty, three-candidate fight, Harris was going to need to raise an early, eye-popping amount of money. Buell saw her friends, people he knew, too, as an asset to deploy. “So we put together a finance committee that primarily was young socialite ladies,” he told me. The group included Vanessa Getty, by then one of Harris’ closest pals, and Susan Swig—head-turning surnames in the city’s choicest circles. Buell’s directive: “I said, ‘No one has ever raised more than $150,000 for a D.A.’s race, totally. I want this group to raise $100,000 by the first reporting period.”

Outfitted in sharp designer suits and strands of bright pearls, Harris kickstarted her drive to become San Francisco’s top cop—in its ritziest, most prestigious locale. Predominantly white Pacific Heights—hills upon hills, gobsmacking views of the Golden Gate strait, mansions built and bought with both new tech money and old gold rush cash—is home to Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Gavin Newsom and others, one of the country’s foremost concentrations of politicians and their patrons. Including the Buells. In late 2002, this became the campaign routine, Buell recalled: “Thirty to 50 people in a room … cocktails … a nice introduction by the host.”

“Kamala would make her pitch.”

“We’d go around with the bag and collect the money.”

By the close of the calendar year, Harris had raised $100,560—nearly 23 percent of which came from the three ZIP codes of Pacific Heights. It’s a roster of early donors that reads like a who’s who of the city. “That crowd really got her started to be taken seriously,” Buell said.

“… Kamala Harris, an Alameda Co. deputy D.A. who is something new in Willie’s love life,” Herb Caen wrote in his column in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 22, 1994, making public her romantic relationship with Willie Brown, who was still married (albeit long estranged), 30 years older than Harris and by then approaching a decade and a half into his unprecedented reign as speaker of the California State Assembly. Caen called Harris “attractive, intelligent and charming.” He called her a “steadying influence” for Brown. And in December of 1995, when Brown was elected mayor, Caen called her the “first-lady-in-waiting.”

Brown, meanwhile, was one of Caen’s best friends, and his mayoralty would cap a lengthy career in which he proved to be one of the shrewder getters, keepers and users of political power of the last half of the 20th century. The dapper, hyper-connected bon vivant and unashamed showman wore pricey Brioni suits and drove fast, fancy cars. Brown didn’t want to talk to me for this story, but he once wrote: “Being able to cross over into the white community is essential for any black, female or male, to succeed as a political figure. I suggest black women lay the groundwork by looking to become active on the boards of social, cultural and, charitable institutions like symphonies, museums, and hospitals. It’s the way to get respect from a world that otherwise is content to eschew or label you. You have to demand the opportunities to enter these worlds.”

It’s hard to think honestly about the origins of the rise of Harris without grappling with the reality of the role of Brown. He helped her. He put her on a pair of state boards that required not much work and paid her more than $400,000 across five years on top of her salary as a prosecutor. He gave her a BMW. He helped her, too, though, in a way that was less immediately material but arguably far more enduringly important.

“Brown, of course, was the darling of the well-to-do set, if you will,” veteran political consultant Jack Davis, who managed Brown’s mayoral campaign, told me. “And she was the girlfriend, and so she met, you know, everybody who’s anybody, as a result of being his girl.”

“I met her through Willie,” John Burton, the former San Francisco congressman and chairman of the California Democratic Party, said in an interview. “I would think it’s fair to say that most of the people in San Francisco met her through Willie.”

“He was the guy that put her right in the ballgame,” said Dan Addario, the chief investigator for the district attorney whom Harris ultimately would topple.

“Look,” Rebecca Prozan, Harris’ campaign manager in 2003, told me, “those of us that want to be in public service in an elected capacity can be used by people who are in public office, taken around town, and there’s a whole host of us that have had that opportunity, and it didn’t work out for us. There has to also be something special about her.”

“Kamala Harris was plenty capable of impressing anyone she met ... all on her own,” said P.J. Johnston, a consultant in San Francisco and a former Brown press secretary, “and did so frequently.”

Harris broke up with Brown shortly after he won the election to be mayor. “She ended it,” Brown told Joan Walsh, writing for San Francisco magazine in 2003, “because she concluded there was no permanency in our relationship, and she was absolutely right.” But in the society and gossip columns in the Chronicle, in the San Francisco Examiner and in the Nob Hill Gazette, her mentions didn’t go down. They ticked up.

When she was still a deputy D.A. in Oakland, Harris joined the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. She was a member of the San Francisco Jazz Organization. She was a patron dinner chair for the San Francisco Symphony’s annual Black & White Ball. She was the executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, and she was president of the board of directors of Partners Ending Domestic Abuse. She was on the board of a nonprofit called Women Count. “Few women,” gushed the Gazette, “are more involved than (equally glamorous) attorney Kamala Harris.”

In the descriptions of P.J. Corkery of the Examiner—who also ghost-wrote Brown’s book—Harris was “super-chic” and “super-smart” and “drop-dead elegant” and “very visible.” She was seen at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room. She was seen at Jeannette Etheredge’s Tosca. She went to a ball to benefit local arts museums at which celebrity event planner Stanlee Gatti’s elaborate set-up incorporated centerpieces of large balls of ice—and was spotted “sometime around midnight” trying to bowl the frosty orbs with Gavin Newsom, who was then a city supervisor as well as a friend and business partner of the Gettys. She went to the 25th anniversary showing of San Francisco’s “Beach Blanket Babylon” and was spotted slipping out of the afterparty for a dinner at Jardinière with Willie Brown and high society grande dame Denise Hale.

By 2002, at the start of her campaign for D.A., she showed her packed, jumbled, leather-bound Filofax to Andrea Dew Steele, who was working at the time as Susie Tompkins Buell’s political and philanthropic adviser. Harris had organized her contacts in an inefficient and outdated way, Steele told me, but the list itself was formidable. “Definitely,” she said.

Recently, in the sitting room in the Pacific Heights house of socialite-turned-attorney Sharon Owsley, I visited with Owsley as well as Debbie Mesloh, a longtime Harris friend, and we talked about these inroads Harris was able to make.

“Kamala also comes from, you know, kind of an intellectually established family,” Mesloh said.

Owsley agreed. “A very fine family,” she said. “Her mother was east Indian and came to this country and became a renowned scientist, and her father came to this country and became a professor of economics. So, she has, you know, the genealogy to move in any circles. But I also have to emphasize that … you don’t need that—but she had it all right.”

The support from the crowds in the homes on the hills was the fuel, and Harris took it from there. She pulled in campaign contributions from “every ZIP code in the city,” she emphasized to W magazine—and the share of her contributions from Pacific Heights got progressively smaller through 2003, down to 21 percent from January to June, 19 from July to September, 13 from October to November and 12 percent from November to December. “I walk very comfortably in a lot of communities in this city,” Harris told the Chronicle as her campaign crescendoed. The newspaper endorsed her in October, saying she had “shown an ability to work with neighborhood groups from the Bayview to Pacific Heights—in essence, all of San Francisco.” Said Buell when we met: “That’s part of Kamala’s gift, I think, is that she can go into a room in any part of town, and she can act appropriate to that room.” There remained, though, no question which candidate San Francisco high society was behind. Joining those donors who maxed out at $500 before the end of 2002 (Bashford, Gatti, Billy and Vanessa Getty, Summer Tompkins Walker, Susan Swig, Steven Swig, Darian Swig, Mary Swig, Marjorie Swig, Cissie Swig, and Ann Moller Caen, Herb Caen’s widow) now were Wilsey, her son Trevor Traina, toy tycoon John Bowes, Frances Bowes, Ann Getty, Peter Getty, George Schultz and Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, in addition to a slate of Fishers (founders of the Gap) and Schwabs (as in Charles).

“You have to have your feet in a lot of different communities in order to win citywide office in San Francisco. It is by no means enough,” Jim Stearns, a top strategist on the ’03 Harris campaign, said of Pacific Heights. “It is just, you know—it is helpful in that it is a good community to raise money out of, and it is a good community to get some visibility.”

“The challenge with San Francisco politics, even more then than now, is that almost everybody agrees with everybody else on everything,” said Dan Schnur, a longtime Republican-turned-independent political operative who worked at the highest levels of state and presidential politics and lived in San Francisco from 1995 to 2002. “Up-and-comers are less likely to distinguish themselves by policy differences than the way they navigate these political-cultural-philanthropic-community circles.”

“Particularly with candidates of color, you know, often they don’t have those kinds of networks,” Steele said, “so this was very, very important for her success … to have some funding stream for her first race, and subsequent races.”

This past spring, at a 2020 fundraiser at the house of one of her Pacific Heights neighbors, Dede Wilsey wanted to talk to Kamala Harris.

To thank her.

“She was very, very helpful,” Wilsey told me when I reached her in Newport, Rhode Island, where she’s been summering, “when my son was recently appointed ambassador to Austria. … And I said, ‘Kamala, I really wanted to be sure to come to this because I wanted to thank you for being so nice to Trevor.’ And she said it was the right thing to do. And I said, ‘But, Kamala, people don’t always do the right thing. And I want you to know how much I appreciate it.’”

The next day, I reached Traina, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the U.S. ambassador to Austria, in Vienna, where he’s been based since last May.

“Kamala is an old friend,” Traina told me. “We all kind of grew up together, you know, Gavin, Kamala and many others.”

He supported her when she was running for D.A. “And she was very nice and very supportive of me when I was going through my Senate confirmation process. And she was one of a number of different senators who put in a good word for me with the staffs at the Foreign Relations Committee, which I really appreciated. That was nice of her. And I think the proof was in the pudding because I was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.”[14]

2018 State of the Union Address

Several Democrats, including Kamala Harris, brought illegal immigrants[15] to the 2018 State of the Union address:

From Vogue

Before Harris heads to the Capitol, she must first stop by her office to welcome the date she’s bringing along, a DACA recipient named Denea Joseph, who emigrated from Belize at the age of seven and grew up in South Los Angeles. (She cofounded a Facebook group called “Slay, Kamala, Slay.”) At Harris’s office, Joseph is waiting on a beige couch, wearing a graphic-print blouse, black slacks, and heels. Harris settles down next to her while an aide runs through Joseph’s lineup of media interviews. “It’s about you, but it’s not about you,” Harris says to calm her nerves. “Think of all the people who are counting on you to deliver your message.” Before they leave, Joseph asks to take a selfie with the senator. I pretend not to be listening as Joseph, fumbling with her phone, tells Harris: “You’re my Beyoncé.”[17]

National Democratic Institute


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris gave keynote remarks at National Democratic Institute's 2017 Madeleine K. Albright Lunch on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

NDI’s Madeleine K. Albright Women’s Project helps women break down barriers keeping them from engaging in politics, and empowers them with knowledge and skills so they can participate, compete and lead. The event honored Women Act for Living Together (WALT), this year's recipient of the Madeleine K. Albright Grant from the Central African Republic, and featured a keynote address from Senator Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris said the speech that Madeleine Albright had befriended and mentored her from the time of her first election race.[18]

College activism

Harris attended public schools in Oakland and Montreal (where she studied art). Then in 1982 it was off to Howard University, a traditionally African-American college in Washington, D.C. She graduated in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics. During her student years, Harris organized mentor programs for minority youths, demonstrated against apartheid, and pledged a socially significant black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.[19]

Kamala Harris ran for student council, pledged a sorority, and served as chair of the economics society. This was the Reagan era, and the war on drugs and anti-apartheid movement dominated campus politics. Her college friend Sonya Lockett describes their Howard years as formative. “You saw these false narratives being shaped around poor people, African-Americans, drug users,” Lockett says. “It did affect you.” Lockett remembers Harris as a charismatic member of the debate team.

In her sophomore year of college at Howard University, Harris worked as an intern for the senior senator from California at the time, Alan Cranston.[20]

While a student at UC Hastings, Harris was president of the Black Law Students Association and advocated for greater diversity as part of the Legal Education Opportunity Program.[21]

Legal work

Back in the Bay Area, Harris earned a law degree from Hastings in 1989. She was quickly hired as an assistant district attorney for Alameda County, telling her mother that the world needs socially aware prosecutors. She specialized in child sexual abuse trials, a particularly difficult type of prosecution because juries are, Harris observes, more inclined to accept the word of an adult than a child. (Alameda District Attorney Tom Orloff recollects that Harris has “a good courtroom presence, a high success rate. She is a genuinely good person and her social values will work well in San Francisco.”)[22]

In 1998, she left the Alameda County DA's Office to work for Terence Hallinan, managing the San Francisco DA's career-criminal unit and concentrating on Three Strikes cases. She personally tried three cases, including a homicide, negotiated dozens of plea bargains, and supervised five other attorneys.

In 2000, upset by what she says was the politicization of the office, Harris and several colleagues tried to overthrow Darrell Salomon, Hallinan's chief deputy. When the coup failed, Harris abruptly quit and went to work for then­City Attorney Louise Renne, heading up the division of Renne's office that handles child abuse, domestic violence, building code enforcement, and public health matters. (Renne describes Harris as an extremely capable lawyer and a compassionate person. “She will make the best DA this city has seen in years,” says Renne.)

Harris was so angry at Hallinan that she decided to try to knock him out of office. She has been running for DA ever since — attending political events, helping out on other people's campaigns, serving on the boards of nonprofits that work with domestic violence victims. She's attended society bashes from Nob Hill to Hollywood — always striving to be seen, methodically gathering support, pushing herself as an alternative to yet another duel between two political has-beens.[23]

Coalition to End the Exploitation of Kids

Kamala Harris co-founded the Coalition to End the Exploitation of Kids, which provides legal and health services to sexually exploited children, including teenage prostitutes. Her partner in that project is Norma Hotaling, an ex-prostitute who considers youthful prostitutes to be the victims of serial rape. [24]

Willie Brown

Kamala Harris met Willie Brown in 1994 when he was speaker of the state Assembly.

According to SF Weekly;

She was 29, he was 60. Their May/December affair was the talk of the town during the year before Brown's successful 1995 bid to become mayor. But shortly after he was inaugurated, Harris dumped Brown, a notorious womanizer.

Brown appointed her to two patronage positions in state government that paid handsomely — more than $400,000 over five years. In 1994, she took a six-month leave of absence from her Alameda County job to join the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Brown then appointed her to the California Medical Assistance Commission, where she served until 1998, attending two meetings a month for a $99,000 annual salary.[25]

On the people's side


From the People's World, December 6, 2010.

California’s new top cop, San Francisco’s progressive District Attorney Kamala Harris, vowed to insure “the law of this state is on the side of the people.”
In a victory press conference Nov. 30, the state attorney general-elect pledged to crack down on fraudulent mortgage lenders, cut down on the state’s high prison recidivism rate, and aggressively enforce environmental and civil rights laws.
After a nail-biter race that saw the post-election count flip-flop between Democrat Harris and Republican Steve Cooley, Harris pulled ahead decisively a week to ago to become the first woman and person of color State Attorney General. Harris’ parents are of Jamaican and Indian decent.
With Harris’ victory, Democrats made a clean sweep of all California statewide offices, in which the voters gave the boot to Republican incumbents for governor and state insurance commissioner as well.
Harris pledged to help local law enforcement take on predatory mortgage lenders and to reform California’s “revolving-door,” overcrowded prison system.

An advocate of offender rehabilitation programs in San Francisco, Harris has promoted rehab and support services for nonviolent criminal offenders. She has only sought the three-strike sentence of 25-years-to-life in those cases of a violent or serious crime.
Harris vowed to prioritize environmental protection in the state, which has among the most advanced climate protection laws and programs in the nation.
In San Francisco, Harris created the first environmental unit in the DA’s office. In the November elections she opposed failed Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s greenhouse gas emissions laws until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent or below for a year.
Harris personally opposes the death penalty but she is committed to enforce state law, which requires the state attorney general to prosecute death-penalty appeals.
California’s main law enforcement groups opposed Harris’ candidacy because, as San Francisco’s district attorney, she refused to seek the death sentence in the case of a San Francisco police officer killer in 2004.
However, supporters of Harris campaign, eager for a pro-people attorney general, included the California Labor Federation, the Service Employees International Union, civil liberties and rights groups and independently financed campaigns backed by the labor movement and Powerpac.org, a progressive social justice organization.
At the Nov. 30 press conference, Harris said, “one does not have to run from their convictions when they choose to run for office.”

San Francisco District Attorney campaign


Jim Stearns was Harris' campaign mamager. David Binder was a pollster on her successful 2003 San Francisco District Attorney campaign. Her finance chairman, Mark Buell, was a major Democratic Party fund-raiser.[26]

Back on Track

California led the nation in tough-on-crime legislation like three-strikes laws. As a prosecutor in communities like Oakland and Richmond in the early ’90s, Kamala Harris had had a front-row seat to the carnage the crack cocaine epidemic wrought on African American communities. “She [was] very clear that the war on drugs [was] an abject failure,” says Tim Silard, an advocate for civil rights and income equality whom Harris tapped to help run Back on Track.[27]

Joanna Hernandez, then a young Latina organizer, had spent her career doing on-the-ground mediation with at-risk and gang-involved youths. When Lateefah Simon tried to hire her as a reentry manager for Back on Track, Hernandez saw the district attorney’s office as an enemy, not an ally. Hernandez remembers saying, “What do I look like working with the DA’s office?” She had her own ideas of how the system operated: “Prosecution, wrongful prosecutions,” she says. But like her boss, Simon was persistent, and Hernandez eventually joined up.[28]

Mentoring Lateefah Simon

In 2005, STORM affiliate Lateefah Simon went to work[29]for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who quickly became her mentor and selected her to run Back on Track.[30]

Lateefah Simon, Kamala Harris, 2016

A high-school dropout, Lateefah Simon was working full time at Taco Bell as a teenager, had a baby at age 19 and was on probation for shoplifting before things started to turn around.

While on probation, she was referred to a nonprofit called the Center for Young Women’s Development, which provided jobs, training, classes, books and other services to girls and young women on the streets and in the criminal justice system.

Lateefah Simon became so involved and motivated by the plight of San Francisco’s struggling young women that she started going toBoard of Supervisors meetings every Tuesday to ask what the city was doing to help young women on the fringes. Her passion and intelligence caught the attention of city leaders, including then-Supervisor Tom Ammiano and Kamala Harris, who at the time was a young attorney for the city.

The center’s board was so impressed by Simon’s efforts they named her executive director when Simon was just 19 years old. She was suddenly in charge of a staff of 10 and a $750,000 annual budget.

Harris helped guide her through those years, Simon said.

“She just changed my life. She was tough as nails. She said to me, ‘You need to be excellent. … So first off, you need to go to college,’ “ Simon recalled.

Simon enrolled at Mills College in Oakland, taking classes nights and weekends while working full time at the center and raising her daughter. She eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public policy.

Meanwhile, Harris — who by then had become San Francisco’s district attorney — asked Simon to help start a program to help nonviolent, first-time, low-level drug offenders get jobs, enroll in school, attend parenting classes and otherwise improve their lives before they became embroiled in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.

“Our goal was to get people off the street. How do you do that? Turned out it was easy — you just ask them what they need,” Simon said. “Housing? A bank account? A job? Therapy? A gym membership, so you can take better care of yourself? We could help them get those things.”

Simon and her colleagues would go to court hearings and try to intercept young men and women as they met with a judge. In the one-year program, offered as an alternative to jail, offenders would take mandatory parenting classes, regular drug tests, job training workshops and other steps designed to help them “transition to a crime-free life,” Harris wrote in the Huffington Post.

If they completed the program, their felony charges would be dropped.

The program, called Back on Track, was immediately successful. Those who graduated from Back on Track had only a 10 percent recidivism rate, compared with 70 percent for those not enrolled in the program. It was also a bargain for taxpayers: The public pays about $5,000 for each participant, compared with the $50,000 or so it costs to keep a person incarcerated for a year.

The program has since been adopted in cities across the U.S., and was hailed as a model by outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Harris credited the program’s success to Simon’s energy and imagination.

“Lateefah Simon has devoted her life’s work to helping the poor, the disadvantaged, and those trapped in the cycle of our criminal justice system,” Harris said in an e-mail. “While working with me during my tenure as district attorney of San Francisco, she led my office’s work to create ‘Back on Track,’ nationally recognized program that helped divert low-level offenders away from lives of crime and toward productive futures. She is a tremendous asset to the state of California and a champion for justice, equality and dignity.”[31]

Recruiting Lateefah Simon

In 2004, after Harris defeated two-term incumbent Terence Hallinan to become San Francisco’s district attorney—the first woman and the first person of color to hold the position—she approached Lateefah Simon about joining that office.

“I never wanted to work for The Man,” Simon says. “And she was like, ‘You’d be working for this black woman.'” When Simon demurred, Harris made her case more plainly: “You can bring your advocacy into the office, but do you forever want to be on the stairs yelling and begging for people to support you, your cause? Why can’t you fix it from the inside?”[32]

Harris endorses Simon


Lateefah Simon November 2, 2015

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has been an invaluable mentor to me and will make an incredible U.S. Senator. Her endorsement means the world.

"Lateefah Simon has devoted her life’s work to helping the poor, the disadvantaged, and those trapped in the cycle of our criminal justice system. While working with me during my tenure as district attorney of San Francisco, she led my office’s work to create 'Back on Track,’ nationally recognized program that helped divert low-level offenders away from lives of crime and toward productive futures. She is a tremendous asset to the state of California and a champion for justice, equality and dignity.” – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris

Kamala Harris stumps for Lateefah Simon

Kamala Harris hugs Lateefah Simon

From John Wildermuth SFGate November 5, 2016;

If you are unaware that California is about to elect a new U.S. senator Tuesday, you aren’t going to find out about it from state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Harris, the front-runner in the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, made a stop in San Francisco Friday to give a brief street-corner speech where she barely mentioned herself or her campaign. And she certainly didn’t talk about Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez, her challenger in the Democrats-only showdown.
Instead, Harris spoke only about the importance of the election.
Candidates up and down the ballot “are making decisions that affect our lives, like whether we can afford to get from home to work,” Harris said in front of the Embarcadero BART Station on Market Street, giving a nod to Lateefah Simon, a candidate for the BART Board of Directors.

Adachi relationship

As a scandal rocked the city’s crime lab in 2010, District Attorney Kamala Harris was increasingly at odds with the city’s elected public defender, Jeff Adachi. He accused her of being “unethical,” and she said he was “playing politics with public safety,” according to media reports at the time.

The fight was, on one level, an example of a prosecutor and defense attorney playing their respective roles. But it was all the more extraordinary because the two had been friends for years.

Adachi had been Harris’s tutor when they were at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Their relationship continued as their careers intersected at crucial moments, often on opposite sides in high-profile criminal cases, until it recently reached an unexpected conclusion just when she may have most needed his help.

They were children of the Bay Area. Adachi developed his fervent sense of justice from Japanese American parents who had been sent to an internment camp by the U.S. government during World War II. Harris, whose father came from Jamaica and whose mother is from India, grew up attending civil rights rallies in Berkeley.

Both decided that the way to address injustice was to work within the system — he as a public defender and she as a prosecutor. Both experienced disillusionment in their early jobs that led them to seek political office. Adachi was elected as the city’s chief public defender in 2002, and Harris ran the following year to be district attorney.

One day, Adachi ran into Harris and asked her why she wanted to focus on the prosecutorial side of the law.

“And she said, ‘That’s how I’m going to change the world,’ ” Adachi said in a recent interview. “My perception is that she saw law enforcement as the place she would have the greatest amount of influence because you know as D.A., she would be the one making the decisions” on whether to prosecute individuals. “People saw the system as the enemy, so joining the system was a tightrope walk.”

Harris won in 2003, and for all seven years that she served as district attorney, Adachi was on the opposite side. They continued as adversaries and friends, often talking to each other about cases, and seeking support from the same set of voters.

“We grew up together as professionals,” Harris, 54, said in an interview. Given his status as one of the few elected public defenders in the country, Adachi was “a real national leader” with “a bully pulpit,” she said. Adachi also wrote and directed a documentary called “The Slanted Screen,” which was critical of the way Asians have been stereotyped on television and in movies.

Adachi, a fit-looking man with an even-keeled but forceful tone, sometimes questioned whether Harris was going far enough in her promise to look out for the rights of defendants as well as prosecuting them. He urged her to speak more about the need for changes in sentencing, bail and prisons.

“Could she have been more progressive given that she was a prosecutor of color? Yeah,” Adachi said. “Did I hope that? Yeah, at times. Was I disappointed? Yeah, but at the same time, you know, I saw her as somebody who was in a position to make a difference.” He recalled discussing cases with Harris in which she agreed to go more lightly on deserving defendants.

After six years in which their offices faced off, the relationship hit perhaps its roughest moments when it was revealed in March 2010 that Harris and her staff had not informed defense lawyers that evidence from the police-run crime lab might have been tainted. A judge ruled in May 2010 that Harris had failed to inform defendants as required by law. Harris said in the interview she took responsibility and made “no excuses” for the failure.

It was during that time that Adachi told the San Francisco Chronicle that Harris was being “unethical” for not disclosing to defense attorneys that police officers who were essential to certain cases had been convicted of crimes or been investigated for misconduct. He said Harris “is putting the privacy interests of police officers who have misconduct records and who have been convicted of crimes above the rights of citizens to a fair and honest trial.”

Harris fired back that Adachi was “playing politics” and said records were overseen by the police and protected by state privacy rules.

Adachi, after running unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011, continued as public defender. Harris had greater ambition and broader success, winning election as California attorney general and U.S. senator. But as she declared her candidacy for the presidency, critics on her left raised concerns about her record on criminal-justice reform and questioned whether her characterization of being a “progressive prosecutor” was inherently contradictory.

As a result, Harris wanted support from Adachi, whose endorsement would have been an ideal response to such concerns. But Adachi wasn’t quite ready.

On Feb. 13, as he sat for an interview in his spacious second-floor office, he spoke carefully, saying he admired Harris but had questions about how committed she was to instituting changes to help defendants.

“The big question that I have now, which I’m trying to get answered — and I actually have a call in to her, I don’t even know if I’ll hear back — is . . . I want to know what you’re going to do in the future. She says that one of her planks of her platform is going to be criminal-justice reform. What does that mean?”

The following day, Harris said, Adachi told her on the phone that reporters were asking him questions about her record. She said she told Adachi that she was committed to ensuring that defendants receive their constitutional rights, and she asked him to be an adviser on the issue for her campaign.

It was an emotional call, she said. They discussed their three decades of friendship, going back to law school and their respective roles in San Francisco’s tumultuous criminal-justice system.

“I had a great conversation with him, and he was very supportive,” Harris said, while saying she didn’t ask for a formal endorsement. She said he agreed to have a subsequent talk with the campaign about formalizing his role as an adviser.

Eight days later, Adachi, 59, died after having dinner with a friend. An official report has not been released, but local media reported the cause of death as a heart attack.

Harris still seemed in disbelief. “I was very sad that he died, and I still am,” she said, her voice trailing off. No longer could she count on the plan that Adachi would again counsel her, just as he had 30 years ago.[33]

Obama"truth squad"

Barack Obama’s campaign in California formed a “truth squad,” announced via conference call, in January 2008, to counter the attacks that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has leveled in recent weeks. On the call were squad members Bay Area Congressman George Miller, LA Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and LA County Labor Federation chief Maria Elena Durazo, now a national co-chair of the Obama campaign. Also on the squad are Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, LA Congressman Adam Schiff, state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass, and, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Miller, one of the top congressional Democrats as head of the House Democratic Policy Committee and chairman of the Education & Labor Committee, noted that the truth squad was formed to deal with a threat that may or may not exist any longer. “We don’t know yet,” he said. “The Clinton campaign may have learned its lesson from South Carolina,” where voters mostly rejected the Clinton tactics, as exit polls make clear. Will former President Clinton, historically popular in California, be a problem for Obama in the nation’s largest primary? “I think there is a rethink underway about what he is doing.”[34]

Employee Free Choice Act

On May 6 and 7 2009, more than 1,000 workers across the state attended vigils in San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego to highlight the urgency of passing the Employee Free Choice Act. They were joined by a diverse group of interfaith leaders, community allies, economists, academics and elected officials, who came out to express their support for workers’ rights and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Hundreds of Bay Area union members attended a 26-hour vigil at the Federal Building in San Francisco organized by the San Mateo County and San Francisco Labor Councils and California Labor Federation. The event was designed to call on Congress to pass the EFCA and urge Senator Dianne Feinstein to sign on as a co-sponsor.

Several elected officials spoke in support of the EFCA, including San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Assembly member Fiona Ma, San Francisco Board of Supervisors members Eric Mar and David Campos and Board President David Chiu.

Noted University of California-Berkeley economist Steven Pitts highlighted the economic necessity of the Employee Free Choice Act: “Academics and economists across the country agree that the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to rebuilding our economy and restoring the American Dream,” he said. He pointed out that if EFCA was passed and more workers were given the freedom to choose union representation in the workplace, the state’s economy would benefit from their increased spending power.[35]

Asian American Action Fund

In 2010 the Asian American Action Fund endorsed Ted Lieu and Kamala Harris (dual endorsement) for California Attorney General in the June 8 California primary election.[36]

Activists from the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) spoke at the vigil May 7. Feiyi Chen told of her experiences working for a non-union electronics manufacturer and how the CPA had helped workers get severance pay. She said that the EFCA was an important way to advance workers’ rights. “I learned that it is difficult to get justice without a union,”

"On the people's side"

According to the Communist Party USA newszine of December 6, 2010;[37]

California's new top cop, San Francisco's progressive District Attorney Kamala Harris, vowed to insure "the law of this state is on the side of the people."
In a victory press conference Nov. 30, the state attorney general-elect pledged to crack down on fraudulent mortgage lenders, cut down on the state's high prison recidivism rate, and aggressively enforce environmental and civil rights laws.

Harris pledged to help local law enforcement take on predatory mortgage lenders and to reform California's "revolving-door," overcrowded prison system.
An advocate of offender rehabilitation programs in San Francisco, Harris has promoted rehab and support services for nonviolent criminal offenders. She has only sought the three-strike sentence of 25-years-to-life in those cases of a violent or serious crime.
Harris vowed to prioritize environmental protection in the state, which has among the most advanced climate protection laws and programs in the nation.

In San Francisco, Harris created the first environmental unit in the DA's office. In the November elections she opposed failed Proposition 23, which would have suspended California's greenhouse gas emissions laws until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent or below for a year.
Harris personally opposes the death penalty but she is committed to enforce state law, which requires the state attorney general to prosecute death-penalty appeals.
California's main law enforcement groups opposed Harris' candidacy because, as San Francisco's district attorney, she refused to seek the death sentence in the case of a San Francisco police officer killer in 2004.
However, supporters of Harris campaign, eager for a pro-people attorney general, included the California Labor Federation, the Services Employees International Union, civil liberties and rights groups and independently financed campaigns backed by the labor movement and Powerpac.org, a progressive social justice organization.
At the Nov. 30 press conference, Harris said, "one does not have to run from their convictions when they choose to run for office."

Foreclosure deal

In 2010, as the foreclosure epidemic raged, George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, and Stephen Lerner, Service Employees International Union organizer, brought unions, community organizations and faith groups together to pressure banks and the Obama administration to do more for families losing their homes. As the New Bottom Line coalition, they mounted protests at bank headquarters around the country, generating media attention and helping Attorneys General Eric Schneiderman of New York and Kamala Harris of California successfully push for a stronger national settlement with several major banks, which resulted in more than $26 million in foreclosure relief.[38]

Obama for America, National Co-Chair

February 22, 2012, Obama for America, announced the selection of the campaign’s National Co-Chairs, a diverse group of leaders from around the country committed to re-electing President Obama. The co-chairs will serve as ambassadors for the President, advise the campaign on key issues, and help engage and mobilize voters in all 50 states.

Attorney General Kamala Harris – Attorney General of California, was on the list.[39]

Fred Ross award campaign

In early 2013, mainly Democratic Socialists of America aligned activists, together with many elected officials across the United States came together to urge President Barack Obama to award posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the legendary organizer, Fred Ross, Sr.. The Saul Alinsky trained radical was the first to organize people through house meetings, a mentor to both Cesar Chavez and DSAer Dolores Huerta, and a pioneer in Latino voter outreach since 1949 when he helped elect Communist Party USA affiliate Ed Roybal as Los Angeles’s first Latino council member, "Ross’ influence on social change movements remains strong two decades after his death in 1992".

Endorsers of the proposal included Kamala Harris.[40]

Backing Mike Honda


Steve Phillips May 27, 2014

Proud to join CA Attorney General Kamala Harris in standing strong with Congressman Mike Honda as he stands for reelection — with Shari Rubin-Rick, Sophia Yen and Aimee Allison at Pacific Heights Neighborhood.

PowerPAC+ connections

Kamala Harris has strong tie to Susan Sandler, Steve Phillips and their organization PowerPAC+.

Matt Nelson prediction

Matt Nelson January 21 2019·


Just sayin...back in 2013. Kamala Harris.

Supporters since 2010

From PowerPAC+, June 03, 2014,[41]

Once named the “female Barack Obama,” Kamala ran for Attorney General of California in 2010 on a progressive platform. She openly opposes the death penalty, refusing to pursue capital punishment during her eight year tenure as San Francisco District Attorney, and as Attorney General, she said that she would review each case individually.
PowerPAC.org and PowerPAC+ have been Kamala supporters since 2010. In our efforts to support Kamala, PowerPAC.org produced a political ad outlining Kamala’s promise to protect the most vulnerable working class neighborhoods by holding California polluters accountable to their environmental crimes. In 2012, Kamala filed misdemeanor criminal charges against Chevron for violations of labor, health and safety standards that contributed to a fire at its Richmond refinery.

Sandler support

Susan Sandler is a philanthropist and political donor. She was the first and largest donor behind the independent efforts to support Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She was also the lead investor in the independent activities supporting Kamala Harris’ 2010 campaign for California Attorney General and Cory Booker’s 2013 election to the United States Senate. She is a national leader in education reform and has served as a board member of several progressive non-profit organizations including the Democracy Alliance. [42]

Kamala Harris announces 2016 U.S. Senate Bid


Kamala Harris announces 2016 U.S. Senate Bid Posted by Aimee Allison on January 13, 2015;[43]

This Tuesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced her U.S. Senate bid to replace Senator Barbara Boxer who is retiring next year. We are thrilled at the opportunity to support a progressive that represents California and the nation.

The PowerPAC+ family has supported Kamala Harris since before she ran for statewide office in 2010, and her record in leadership has been stellar. She took on banks responsible for the mortgage crisis, she stood up for marriage equality and she supported criminal justice reform. She is the right leader for the multiracial majority.
We need her in the Senate now more than ever. Now’s our chance to get her campaign off to a strong start. Donate what you can today.
2016 starts now.

Kamala Harris for Senate campaign kickoff event


Steve Phillips April 1, 2015.

At kickoff event for California's next United States Senator, Kamala Harris! — with Eleni TK, Aimee Allison, Amy Chen, Michael Tubbs and Jill Habig at Delancey Street Foundation.

PowerPAC+ Elected and Appointed Leadership

The list of PowerPAC+ leaders is growing.

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Here are the social justice champions we have helped elect.



PowerPAC+ 2016 Endorsements


Phillips influence

Steven Phillips is co-founder of PowerPAC+, a social justice organization dedicated to building a multiracial political coalition. PowerPAC+ conducted the largest independent voter mobilization efforts backing Barack Obama, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.[45]

Booker on Harris

Most of the names who appear on the short list alongside Kamala Harris declined to discuss 2020 with Zoe Ghertner, with the notable exception of Senator Cory Booker. “If she did run, what a gift to the country that would be,” he says. “When have you seen someone with her qualifications, her competency, her natural gifts as a leader—and who happens to be a black, Asian, biracial woman?” He adds, “I told her this before she got here: Should she choose to become a senator, she would immediately be on the short list for president or vice president for the next 20 years.”[46]

Casher appointment

In 2013, PowerPAC+ board member Eric Casher was appointed by Attorney General Kamala Harris to serve a four-year term as Commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The FPPC enforces political campaign, lobbying and conflict of interest laws. Eric’s FPPC experience contributes to the expertise he provides to clients in matters relating to governance, statutory powers, Political Reform Act, California Public Records Acts, Brown Act and other conflict of interest laws. .[47]

Collective PAC


Launched in August of 2016, the Collective PAC has helped 18 candidates win primary and/or general elections at the local, state and federal level thus far, including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Representatives Val Demings, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Donald McEachin, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba of Jackson, Vi Lyles of Charlotte, Yvette Simpson of Cincinnati and Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor in Virginia.[48]

Endorsing Stacey Abrams

Kamala Harris, May 14 2018;

I’m proud to support Stacey Abrams’s campaign for Governor of Georgia. Stacey is a fearless fighter running to become the first Black woman elected governor in American history, and she’s dedicated her entire career to advocating for the voiceless and vulnerable in Georgia. She’s never backed down from the tough fights, and she believes the potential of her state and our country is limitless if we all work together to uplift every family. Find out how you can help Stacey’s campaign here: staceyabrams.com

Cory connection


Netroots/Aimee Allison connection

Aimee Allison August 3, 2018 ·


With DeJuana Thompson, Kamala Harris, Tram Nguyen and Sayu Bhojwani.

This Friday at NetRoots I will gather together some of our nation's top political strategists who are fighting to win in swing states across the country - Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Virginia. It's the first conversation of its kind - highlighting the excellence, vision, and skill of these women of color leading the New American Majority playbook. Tram Nguyen LaTosha Brown Sayu Bhojwani Crystal Zermeno @ DeJuana Thompson.

Remarks by Deb Haaland, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

Aimee Allison August 3, 2018 ·


With DeJuana Thompson, Kamala Harris, Tram Nguyen, Crystal Zermeno and Sayu Bhojwani.

21st Century Democrats

21st Century Democrats endorsed Kamala Harris for Senator from California, Patty Murray, Senator Washington, Russ Feingold Senator Wisconsin, Ted Strickland, Senator Ohio, and Steve Bullock, Governor Montana in 2016.[49]

Senator Elizabeth Warren worked with Harris on reforms following the housing market crisis in 2008.
“I saw up close and personal that she is tough, she is principled, and she fights hard. We need more leaders in Washington who are willing to fight for a level playing field for working families,” Warren said in her endorsement of Harris for the U.S. Senate.

Warren praised Harris for demanding real accountability from lenders and for pulling out of the National Mortgage Settlement, instead securing $20 billion in relief for struggling California homeowners.

Harris also championed a new California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which Warren calls one of the most comprehensive sets of foreclosure reform laws in the country.
As the California attorney general, Harris also focused on fighting to reduce elementary school truancy as part of her crime prevention initiatives, preserving the state’s natural resources and ensuring marriage equality for all.

Passing of Rose Pak


Press Release Attorney General Kamala Harris Issues Statement on Passing of Rose Pak.

Monday, September 19, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued the following statement on the death of Rose Pak:

“San Francisco has lost a fearless advocate of the Chinese community with the passing of Rose Pak. She led an unwavering fight that stretched four decades to secure housing and vital services for poor and vulnerable immigrants. Rose never backed away from speaking truth to power, and she was a San Francisco icon. Her spirit will live on in the countless lives she touched and the many she inspired to continue to serve vulnerable communities.” [50]

Leftist women


Kamala Harris GOTV with Sydney Kamlager, Holly Mitchell, Karen Bass, Yvonne Burke, Diane Watson.

Community Coalition connection

Kamala Harris, August 30, 2016 ·

The young people participating in our criminal justice reform roundtable tell me that we must work on building relationships between communities and law enforcement, and that all of us are accountable when it comes to making our criminal justice system more fair and effective. I agree wholeheartedly! — at Community Coalition.

Presidential run?

Despite swirling speculation, California's U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said she’s not giving “any consideration” to running for president in 2020.

Harris was appearing at the annual Code Conference hosted by the tech news site Recode in Rancho Palos Verdes on May 2017 when site co-founder Kara Swisher asked if she had eyes on the White House.

“I’m not giving that any consideration. I’ve got to stay focused,” said Harris, a Democrat who was elected to the Senate in November after serving as California's attorney general. After she won the seat vacated by former Sen. Barbara Boxer, Harris quickly gained a reputation as a potential presidential candidate in 2020.

Harris took questions from Swisher alongside Laurene Powell Jobs, a philanthropist and the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Though she brushed off the presidential rumors, Harris urged Democrats to try harder to make convincing arguments on issues such as climate change instead of just criticizing those who disagree with them.

She told the audience at the posh Terranea Resort where the conference is being held that it would be a mistake to dismiss the concerns of Americans who supported Trump in the November election. She said the issues that concern them — good jobs and the future of their families — are the concerns of all working-class Americans.

“There is a healthy number of people in our country who are feeling displaced, rightly,” Harris said. “I think we have to deal with that.”

Still, Harris dished out plenty of jabs at the Trump administration. She criticized Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions for “resuscitating the war on drugs” and told him to “leave Grandma’s medical marijuana alone.” Harris also criticized the Trump administration’s more hard-line immigration policies, and said she was concerned about allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

“These are serious times. These are not issues we can just sit around with a glass of Chardonnay debating and philosophizing about,” Harris said. “The decisions that are being made right now are impacting real human beings.”[51]

Single Payer

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) championed the idea of “Medicare for All” during his presidential bid last year. He plans to introduce a bill soon, and last week received the endorsement and co-sponsorship of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2020.

While Sanders said the idea isn’t a litmus test for Democrats, it’s gained traction recently, with more than half of the House Democratic Caucus co-sponsoring a Medicare for All bill in the House. That’s almost double the number who co-sponsored the measure last congressional session.[52]

Women's March


"Ideas conference"

Democratic Party luminaries and 2020 presidential mentionables gathered May 2017 for an “ideas conference” organized by the Center for American Progress, the Democratic establishment’s premier think tank.

Its stated purpose was to focus not on “what could have been,” said CAP Vice President Winnie Stachelberg introducing the day, but on “new, fresh, bold, provocative ideas that can move us forward.”

Convened in a basement of Georgetown’s Four Season’s Hotel, the posh watering hole for Washington lobbyists, lawyers and visiting wealth, the conference quickly revealed how hard it is for Democrats to debate the future when Trump is taking all of the air out of the room.

The national press treated the event as a cattle show, an early audition of potential 2020 presidential contenders. This is both way premature and unfair. Kirsten Gillibrand (S-NY), Kamala Harris (S-Cal) and Terry McAuliffe (G-Va) delivered brief addresses on specific issues rather than stump speeches.

Gillibrand laid out her national paid family leave plan; Harris took apart Attorney General Session’s revival of the failed war on drugs; McAuliffe warned about gerrymandering and the importance of winning gubernatorial races before the 2020 census and reapportionment. Sen. Merkley was buried on the economics panel. Bernie Sanders wasn’t even invited.[53]

Single Payer Bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled Wednesday September 13, 2017 a new version of his plan to give everybody government-run health insurance, potentially opening a new chapter in the ongoing debate over how to make health care in the U.S. more affordable and available.

The plan calls for an overhaul of American health insurance with a souped-up, more generous version of Medicare replacing nearly all private health insurance ― and government exerting far more control over the cost of medical care. It would arguably be the most ambitious social welfare initiative in U.S. history, but Sanders told HuffPost in an interview Tuesday that he believes America is ready for it.

“The American people are catching on to where the Republicans are coming from, they see the limitations of the Affordable Care Act and they’re looking at the alternatives,” Sanders said. “And this is a rational alternative.”

That roster of co-sponsors includes a who’s-who list of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Also backing the bill are Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.[54]

Working with Salud Carbajal


Thursday, October 19, 2017, the Central Coast Heritage Act — introduced on 10/16 by Congressmember Salud Carbajal and Senator Kamala Harris — seeks wilderness designation for nearly 250,000 acres of public land, including four new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, while expanding nine existing areas in Los Padres National Forest. The legislation would also establish the 400-mile-long Condor National Recreation Trail. Wilderness designation prohibits logging and mining, as well as vehicles and new roads.[55]

Human Rights Campaign


Senator Kamala Harris addressed the 2017 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. She first went to an HRC dinner in 1999, brought along by her friend Mark Leno. She described herself as a friend of Chad Griffin, and as an "advocate and ally" for HRC. Her friend and advisor was the late Jim Rivaldo, who had helped to elect Harvey Milk.

She quoted Audre Lorde and Bayard Rustin.[56]

Muslim connections

Kamala Harris is involved with several Islamic organizations.

NIAC praise

July 16 2019 Washington DC – Moments ago, Reps. Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, and David Price introduced a resolution calling for the United States to return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran deal, from which President Trump withdrew in May 2018.

In response, NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal has put the U.S. on the brink of war with Iran and threatened to undo the hard won constraints against Iran’s nuclear program. Thankfully, many Members of Congress recognize that there is no military solution to the present crisis, and that the best way to de-escalate is for the U.S. to return to compliance with the nuclear deal. Representatives Lee, Schakowsky and Price should be commended for their years of leadership in advancing peace and diplomacy, including by introducing this important resolution.

“NIAC strongly supports a U.S. return to its JCPOA commitments and first issued a white paper in support of such a move last November. We proudly supported the DNC’s adoption of a resolution committing to return the U.S. to its JCPOA commitments. And we advocated for and welcome the strong majority of Democratic Presidential contenders who have also committed to returning to our diplomatic obligations — including Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Biden, Gabbard, and O’Rourke.

Interfaith Leaders Condemn Terrorism

December 16, 2015, in Los Angeles, Attorney General Kamala Harris convened interfaith and community leaders and law enforcement officials in southern California, after the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, to condemn terrorism and discuss the danger of the recent rise in Islamophobic rhetoric and several high-profile hate crime incidents over the past week. Attorney General Harris discussed the critical role of American Muslim communities in our fight against radicalization and terrorism at home and abroad, and the danger posed when alienating this community.

“As Americans, we are unified in our commitment to protect our country from terrorist attacks, and we must seek justice for those who lost their lives in the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino,” said Attorney General Harris.

Participants in the gathering included leaders from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Shia Muslim Council of Southern California, Muslim Students Associated West, Project Islamic Hope, Bend the Arc, Union for Reform Judaism, Holman United Methodist Church, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Progressive Christians Uniting, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, as well as Los Angles Sheriff Jim McDonnell, representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis.

"Attorney General Harris has exemplified leadership by initiating this meeting with Muslim community and civil rights leaders to address the spike in hate crimes against American Muslims and other minorities," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-Los Angeles.

“One of the primary teachings of Judaism is that all human beings are created in the image of God. As an American, I believe in the rule of law, fairness and justice, as well as equal protection for all citizens. In this time of swirling darkness and rising hate, I hope and pray that we remember our humanity, remember our essence and remember why live in the United States,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Co-Founder of Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative.[57]

"Hate speech" resolution

On April 4, 2017, the US Senate passed Senate Resolution 118, "Condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States". The resolution was drafted by a Muslim organization, EmgageUSA (formerly EmergeUSA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). On April 6, 2017, EmgageUSA wrote the following on their Facebook page:

"Thanks to the hard work of Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Kamala Harris we have achieved the approval of Senate Resolution 118, an anti-hate crimes bill drafted by Emerge-USA. It is days like this that Americans are reminded of this country's founding principles: equal opportunity, freedom, justice. We are proud to help support the protection of these rights #amoreperfectunion #theamericandream".

Senate Resolution 118 calls on...

"...Federal law enforcement officials, working with State and local officials... to expeditiously investigate all credible reports of hate crimes and incidents and threats against minorities in the United States and to hold the perpetrators of those crimes, incidents, or threats accountable and bring the perpetrators to justice; encourages the Department of Justice and other Federal agencies to work to improve the reporting of hate crimes; and... encourages the development of an interagency task force led by the Attorney General to collaborate on the development of effective strategies and efforts to detect and deter hate crime in order to protect minority communities..."

The resolution refers to hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Hindus, and Sikhs and was sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris and co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Susan Collins.[58]

The original drafter of the resolution was Wa'el Alzayat of EmergeUSA.[59]

Radical canvasser

Alaa Aissi canvasser Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate, Feb 2016 – Apr 2016.


“The council has strived to improve understanding about Islam, and move toward a future in which we welcome people of all faiths and nationalities into our neighborhoods and our schools, as well as our hearts and our minds.” (October 2017).[60]

Kamala Harris wrote a letter of support to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on the occasion of their 24th anniversary in September 2018.[61]

CAIR support for Bill

Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., introduced her first bill February 2017 that would provide legal counsel to those held or detained while trying to enter the U.S.

The Access to Counsel Act would allow lawyers to provide legal counsel by phone or video if they cannot physically be present. It would also invalidate any documents abandoning legal resident status or applications for admission if detainees have signed them after being denied legal services.

Harris’s Access to Counsel Act is not without congressional support; there are five co-sponsors in the Senate, including Tom Carper, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., introduced the House companion measure, which has 10 co-sponsors. The measures introduced by Indian American congresswomen Harris and Jayapal have also received support from multiple organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

“As the Trump administration is attempting to close it borders to refugees and asylum seekers, prompt access to lawyers for people who come fleeing persecution is a critical safeguard to ensure they receive the protections guaranteed under U.S. and international law,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center.[62]



Circa November 22, 2017, United States Senator Kamala Harris visited Al-Quds University in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, where she sat down with a group of female students who shared their experiences of living in occupied Palestinian territory.

According to a press release from the university, after briefing the students on her background and career, Harris listened as the students took turns speaking about their experiences at the university.

Harris reportedly told the students that she had driven by Israel’s illegal separation wall on her way to to the university, and asked the students if the wall presented “a real barrier” to their movement.

“The classroom unanimously exclaimed ‘yes’, and expressed their anger about the restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli authorities,” the statement said. The students also told Harris of the restrictions placed on them by Israel’s permit regime, preventing them from reaching their religious holy sites in Jerusalem.

As the meeting closed, the senator asked the students about their plans after graduation, asking them if they wanted to leave Palestine. “But the consensus amongst the students was that they would return to their homeland, Palestine, and help build it,” the statement said.[63]

Yemeni Alliance Committee

In the Bay Area, Yemeni Alliance Committee members have organized rallies calling for an end to the war and the U.S. role in it. They’ve met with California Senator Kamala Harris and Rep. Ro Khanna’s office to push for the congressional War Powers Resolution on Yemen — which was ultimately successful, before Trump vetoed it — and protested outside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office as well as on the streets. [64]

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) released the following statement Wednesday after the Senate voted on a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. The resolution passed 54-46.

“What’s happening in Yemen is devastating. Last year, the war killed on average 100 civilians a week, and thousands of children have died of starvation—Congress must take a stand. The resolution is a powerful signal that Congress will not stand by while the crisis worsens. Enough is enough.”[65]

Democracy Alliance, Fall 2017


Korean connections

Kamala Harris is very close to the "progressive" Korean movement.

Radical Assistant

Ye Rim Choi was aa Intern, then a Staff Assistant at U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.

Defend DACA

Korean Resource Center 민족학교 a— with Jonathan Paik and Ashley Yu, August 28, 2017

This morning, we sat beside U.S. Senator Kamala Harris at a DACA round table at the UCLA Labor Center where she pledged to fight for DACA's survival. The Senator said, "We will fight to keep the spirit behind DACA alive and to keep the word that was spoken in connection with DACA alive and true." 🙌🏼 We are grateful to have her representing California! #DefendDACA #Not1More

Senator Harris was joined at the roundtable by advocacy groups including the Downtown UCLA Labor Center, FWD.us, the Korean Resource Center, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, who are all at the forefront of efforts to protect Dreamers.[66]

2017 Korea Resource Center/NAKASEC Gala


October 19, 2017 NAKASEC Gala. Honorary Host Committee

Expanded list

NAKASEC & KRC 34th Annual Banquet, October 19, 2017 - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Good evening and welcome to our 34th Annual Gala, “Building a Movement for Change: From Roots to Power,” to celebrate the accomplishments of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and the Korean Resource Center (KRC). Your individual support and participation has made our work possible, so we would also like to show our appreciation through tonight’s event.

Tonight we will also pay tribute to five amazing individuals: the Honorable Congresswoman Maxine Waters serving California’s 43rd District; Luisa Blue, Executive Vice President, SEIU; Jeanette Vasquez, Fullerton School Board member; and our outstanding Youth Leaders Sameerah Haque, Hyun Joong Kim, and Eric Eunsoo Yang.

NAKASEC and KRC engage the community through a holistic empowerment model that combines social service, education, and culture with advocacy and organizing. Annually, NAKASEC affiliate KRC assists 14,000 individuals access health care programs, naturalize, secure affordable housing and apply for public benefits. Moreover, last year, we mobilized 42,290 AAPIs to vote, organized 41,193 participants to join our advocacy campaigns, and registered 9,377 voters. We believe strongly in an informed and active citizenry, and as a result of our organizing and advocacy campaigns, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has contributed to significant policy and systematic changes that have benefited low-income families and immigrants, especially in California.2017 has been an incredibly challenging year for immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities. A small but vocal minority is working hard to spread a culture of hate, fear and anxiety. Despite these hard times, NAKASEC and KRC have seen the people we are honoring tonight and thousands of community members across the country resist, fight back, and organize towards positive change for all. The courage we see from everyday people continues to inspire us, and we are emboldened as we look ahead knowing that all of you are with us.

Thank you all for joining us tonight!

Host Committee: Laphonza Butler, David Huerta, Wan-Mo Kang, Stephen K. Kurumada, DDS, Joann Lee, David Lin, Angela Oh, Courtni Pugh, LA County Supervisor , Mark Ridley-Thomas, Myung-Soo Seok, Hyun Woo Shin and Hyewon Jung, Paul Song, Bill Wong.

Honorary Host Committee: Arab American Action Network, Black Youth Project 100, Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco), Adam Crapser, The Honorable Kevin De Leon, Monica Garcia, LAUSD, The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, The Honorable Ted Lieu, Khmer Girls in Action, Little Tokyo Service Center, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, National CAPACD, The Honorable Josh Newman, OCCCO, OCCORD, Orange County Labor Federation, The Honorable Sharon Quirk-Silva, The Honorable Anthony Rendon, The Honorable Linda Sanchez, The Honorable Miguel Santiago, The Honorable Herb Wesson.

Asian Americans Demand a Clean DREAM Act


According to communications contacts Michelle Boykins, Marian Manapsal, Sam Yu;

Asian American Immigrant Youth and Allies Convene at the U.S. Capitol to Demand the Passage of a Clean DREAM Act Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, November 15, marks over 2 months since the Trump administration killed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting the lives of immigrant youth immediately at risk for detention and deportation.

On November 15, over 120 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrant youth and leaders from across the country will convene to demand that the passing of a clean DREAM Act become Congress’s top priority before the end of the year.

Following the press conference, AAPI leaders will engage in a march and a rally as well as legislative visits urging key congressional targets to pass a clean DREAM Act by December 8th.

When: 11:00 AM ET | Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where: House Triangle, United States Capitol, Washington, DC 20016


Rally with the Korean Resource Center

October 11, 2017 Senator Kamala Harris, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, rallied in support of the DREAM Act at the University of California, Irvine. Harris discussed her efforts to protect Dreamers, highlighted the Administration’s unwillingness to extend the DACA renewal deadline, and encouraged Congress to pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Harris, would ensure a path to citizenship for children brought to the United States by their parents.

“I believe we need to pass a clean DREAM Act,” Harris said. “We have got to create a path for citizenship for these young people. They gave so much information about themselves, they cleared vetting. We’re talking about a population of young people who are in college, who are serving in our military, who are working in Fortune 100 companies. We need to keep our promise to them. It’s just the right thing to do.”


Harris was also joined at the rally by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), the Korean Resource Center (KRC), and Dreamers currently attending the University of California, Irvine.[68]

Other speakers included Prof. Stephen Lee, Nidia Bello, DACA recipient and UCI student; Julian Canete, president, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Pastor Mark Davis; Rev. Charles Dorsey, executive director, COR Community Development Corporation; Paulina Jimenez, DACA recipient; Min Jung Park, DACA recipient and UCI student; and Angelica Salas, executive director, CHIRLA. Jonathan Paik of the Korean Resource Center emceed the event.[69]

Homeboy connection

Zoe Ghertner interviewed Kamala Harris in L.A., at a charter school in Boyle Heights co-run by Homeboy Industries, the gang-intervention organization founded by Father Gregory Boyle. Harris has known Boyle, a revered figure in L.A., since her D.A. days, and Homeboy Industries later became a primary partner in her effort to bring Back on Track to other cities.

"Today she is here to meet with a group of Dreamers and to be photographed for this profile. Among the people milling around are Harris’s campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, and her State of the Union date, Denea Joseph. Shortly after eleven, everyone gathers in the parking lot, in front of a large mural that says “Jobs Not Jails.”[70]

Daraka Larimore-Hall connection


Harris on Huerta

Kamala Harris September 19, 2017;

Harris on Huerta.JPG
Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, I will highlight Americans who are making a difference in their communities and the world. First is Dolores Huerta, a leader in the farm worker, women’s, and civil rights movements. Dolores is known for co-founding what would become the United Farm Workers and also played a critical role in a strike against California grape growers. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Joe Henry connection


Joe Henry with Kamala Harris.


Kamala Harris and Joe Henry.

Backing Black Futures Lab


In February 2118 Kamala Harris supported the launch of Alicia Garza's Black Futures Lab.

SR 59 endorser

By February 20 2019 endorsers of Ed Markey's SR 59 (Green New Deal) included Kamala Harris.

"Be HEARD" Act

April 9 2019, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was joined by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), to introduce the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination (Be HEARD) in the Workplace Act, legislation which takes critical steps to ensure businesses have more resources to prevent harassment and workers have more support when they seek accountability and justice, and sends a clear message to those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job: time is up.

Senator Murray announced the introduction at a news conference with survivors and advocates who shared their personal stories about workplace assault and harassment, including Adriana Cazorla, a Washington state domestic worker and advocate with National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Maria del Carmen Ruelas, farm worker with Justice for Migrant Women Advocates who also resides in Washington state. Additionally, leaders from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) participated and highlighted the urgent need to pass the legislation.

“No matter who you are or where you work—whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker, you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age—and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran.” said Senator Murray. “For far too long and for far too many people in our country this hasn’t been true. So today, I’m proud to be standing up to fight for change and make clear that time is up.”

In addition to Senator Murray, the Senate bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). The House bill is being introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8), and Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26).[71]

Domestic Workers Bill of Rights


July 2019 Washington, DC —Today, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, alongside Senator Kamala Harris (CA) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), have announced that they will introduce groundbreaking new legislation to improve the lives of domestic workers and transform the way people work in America.

The first ever national Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which will be officially introduced early in the 116th Congress, will provide basic labor protections to more than two million nannies, house cleaners, and care workers across the country, while developing innovations for the future of one of the fastest growing occupations in the country.

“The work of domestic workers is so incredibly important, both as caregivers and as organizers. This is the work that our economy is built on, yet too often, it’s undervalued and underappreciated,” said Senator Kamala Harris. “In America, we all deserve basic rights, safety, and dignity in the workplace. By fighting for fairness and equal treatment, we are fighting for the best of who we are as a country.”

“For the first time in history, we have a chance to raise the bar for every domestic worker in our country, and set the stage for all working people,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “As people live longer, we have the opportunity to embrace an intergenerational future in America, where all of us are cared for at each stage of our lives. All of us deserve to work and live with safety and dignity, and this legislation ensures that no one is left behind.”

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will come on the heels of similar laws in eight states and one city enacted over the last decade. In addition to addressing issues facing domestic workers, the bill will:

Create new tools to ensure that these rights are real and that workers can exercise their rights without fear. “In this critical moment for our country, domestic workers are shaping the future of our economy and drawing the shape of our democracy,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “Our future depends on each one of us coming together to make change. And domestic workers are standing up for all of us as women, as immigrants, as workers, as people of color. Their strength, courage and power inspires us all as we fight together for workplace democracy.”[72]

Kamala Harris's staff, past and present

As of December 2017;



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