For The People: Kamala Harris

 

Thank you to Thrive Global for publishing my article about Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee for the 2020 election, was the first female district attorney of San Francisco and served as the Attorney General of California. She has a history of breaking barriers as she is only the second female African American United States Senator and the tenth African American United States Senator. She is a highly qualified lawyer and political servant who cares about people and legislation that protects and serves. To learn more about Harris as a political leader and her past achievements I read her book, The Truths We Hold, in which she describes the community that helped shape her and thereby the policies that she has supported, which have helped change California state and our country.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris’ parents met during the civil rights movement while they were both earning their PhDs at Berkeley. In her early life, she was exposed to the civil rights movement and key leaders including Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and author and activist Maya Angelou, who was the first black woman to achieve the title of “bestselling author” for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Harris’ heroes were lawyers, including giants of the civil rights movement like Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley. Harris shares that she ”cared a lot about fairness, and saw the law as a tool that can help make things fair.”  Harris was inspired by her role models to become a lawyer who could affect change. 

Harris chose Howard University for her undergraduate degree, which was Thurgood Marshall’s alma mater. She returned to her native California to attend UC Hastings School of Law in San Francisco, followed by a job as deputy district attorney in Alameda county. She recounts how things have changed since 1990 when she was admitted to the bar. When practicing law in the early 1990s, women wore skirt suits because they “were not permitted to wear pants in the courtroom.” In contrast, it is no longer risqué to wear trousers–Kamala Harris can be seen wearing pants suits on the campaign trail, symbolic of breaking barriers of a historically male dominated public sphere.

Kamala Harris has been breaking through the glass ceiling for decades. “In 2015, 95% of our country’s prosecutors were white, and 79% of those were men.” She helped to break racial and gender barriers in 2003 when she was elected as California’s Attorney General. As a lawyer and political leader, she has been able to “look out for the overlooked, to speak up for those whose voices arent being heard, to see and address the causes of crime, not just their consequences, and to shine a light on the inequality and unfairness that lead to injustice. It is to recognize that not everyone needs punishment, that what many need, quite plainly, is help.”

Kamala Harris

Her innovative programs have included Back on Track, which was a law enforcement program in which former inmates do community service, get their GEDs, reconnect with family members, pay outstanding child support and remain drug free. Keeping former inmates from returning to the prison system is a huge challenge but Harris’ program had proven results, which led to reform in 33 states that have adopted revised sentencing and corrections policies aimed at promoting alternatives to incarceration and reducing recidivism.” Harris has always had a commitment to long term solutions that make people’s lives better.

One of her first contributions as California District Attorney involved the mortgage crisis of 2010 when the Attorneys General of all 50 states worked together on a joint investigation. At first California was offered $2 billion dollars but after Harris investigated and took action, she helped to secure significant relief for the taxpayers including $20 billion in relief for homeowners, $300 million for the state pension system for investment losses $550 million from SunTrust Mortgage, $200 million from Citigroup, and another $500 million from Bank of America—all to address losses sustained during the mortgage crisis.

On June 26, 2013, Kamala Harris was in attendance in Washington DC when the California Supreme Court ruled Proposition 8- an amendment to the California Constitution that would strip same-sex couples of the legal rights that come with marriage- as unconstitutional. In celebration of the landmark decision, Kamala Harris performed wedding ceremonies at the State Capitol.  

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden

As Harris explained: “Whether we are fighting for transgender rights or for an end to racial bias, whether we are fighting against housing discrimination or insidious immigration laws, no matter who we are or how we look or how little it may seem we have in common, the truth is, in the battle for civil rights and economic justice, we are all the same.”

After her many successes as Attorney General, she ran for the U.S. Senate to keep “fighting for families feeling the burden of stagnant wages, soaring housing costs, and diminishing opportunity; for people imprisoned in a broken criminal justice system; for students exploited by predatory lenders and burdened by skyrocketing tuition; for victims of fraud and white-collar crime; for immigrant communities, for women, for older people.”

Once elected, she served on the Intelligence, Homeland Security, Budget, and Environment and Public Works committees asking tough questions and working for the people on issues of counterterrorism, securing our borders, the challenge of nuclear proliferation, as well as gathering intelligence while protecting civil liberties. She is concerned that America is ready to deal with cyber warfare and will have secure elections. She voted against John Kelly’s confirmation for Homeland Security Secretary as he “wasn’t prepared to keep the nation’s promises” especially on DACA and immigrant rights. Harris has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in Congress—the DREAM Act—which gives these young people [DACA] a permanent path to citizenship. 

Kamala Harris

Harris wants all Americans to have access to affordable health care. She asks “Why are Americans paying so much more for the medicines we need? Because, unlike many other advanced countries, the U.S. government doesn’t negotiate prices on prescription drugs.” She focuses on solutions to help address the root of the problems. Whether it is the Affordable Care Act, the opioid crisis, or families who have been separated by immigration policies, Kamala Harris cares about helping Americans achieve a good life.

Kamala Harris has a vision of a united America: “For all of our differences, for all the battles, for all the fights, we are still one American family, and we should act like it. We have so much more in common than what separates us. We need to paint a picture of the future in which everyone can see themselves, and everyone is seen…a better future is possible for us all.

Thank you to Thrive Global for publishing my article about Kamala Harris.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”

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