Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will travel to Selma, Alabama, this weekend to keynote Sunday’s Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Unity breakfast and march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge as she considers challenging President Donald Trump in 2020.
Harris told the Tom Joyner Morning Show on Wednesday that she will be “marching in Selma this weekend” and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the “Bridge Crossing Jubilee” before the 53rd anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”
“Senator Harris is a very powerful speaker and advocate, and many people view her as a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. This may turn out to be a historical occasion,” Alabama state Senator Hank Sanders, who is organizing the event, said.
When asked about her potential 2020 ambitions, Harris said she is just focusing on the 2018 midterm elections.
“Right now I am focused on today. I’m focused on the election of 2018. You know I’ve seen so many people focus on that thing down the road, that they trip over the thing right in front of them,” she said. “And we cannot afford to trip, when we’re looking at a situation where you’ve got an attorney general who is trying to bring back the war on drugs and resuscitate mandatory minimum sentences.”
When black establishment leaders had doubts about whether then-Senator Barack Obama, who grew up in Hawaii and abroad, could relate to the black American experience, Obama went to Selma in March of 2007 and gave one of the most important speeches of his political life. After his rousing speech, he started winning over the black voters who would form the backbone of his coalition that won him two terms in the White House.
Obama talked about his grandfather in Africa who was called a “house boy” and not addressed by his first name while he was a cook to the British. Obama asked the audience if his grandfather’s story was familiar and said he owed his existence to the civil rights marchers because “something happened” in Selma, Alabama, and it inspired his father to come to America and eventually meet his white mother while some “good craziness” was going on and something was “stirring across the country” because of what happened in Selma:
So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I’m here because somebody marched for our freedom. I’m here because y’all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants. I thank the Moses generation.
But we have got to remember now that Joshua still had a job to do. As great as Moses was, despite all that he did, leading a people out of bondage, he didn’t cross over the river to see the promised land. God told him, your job is done, you’ll see it. You’ll be at the mountaintop, and you can see what I’ve promised, what I promised to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and I promised to you, you can see that I will fulfill that promise.
As Breitbart News has noted, Harris has not inspired black voters like Obama did and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), her Senate colleague and potential 2020 rival, has been doing. But Harris is taking steps to appeal to black voters, who make up a majority of Democratic primary voters in key southern primary states like South Carolina. At last weekend’s California Democratic Convention, she came on stage to the Black Panther soundtrack, and Harris is co-sponsoring a bill to get a Shirley Chisholm statute in the Capitol to honor the first black Congresswoman.
“Shirley Chisholm had the guts to oppose the Vietnam War. The guts to run for president in 1972, as the first Black woman to seek the nomination of a major American political party,” she wrote in Essence this week. “The guts to reach across the aisle and see that we have more in common than what separates us, whether that was working with Republican Senator Bob Dole to create the food stamp program or visiting George Wallace, her racist presidential rival, in the hospital after he had been shot in a failed assassination attempt.”
— Krishan Patel (@IAmKrishanPatel) February 24, 2018