Sep 25, 2020
NAACP National Convention with Kamala Harris Transcript September 25
Kamala Harris joined the NAACP virtual convention for a conversation on September 25. They discussed racial equity and the Biden/Harris administration’s commitment to the Black community. Read the transcript of the event here.
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Kamilia Landrum: (06:33)
My name is Kamilia Landrum. I’m a 31 year old Black woman from the east side of Detroit, Michigan. Based on my zip code of birth, I’m not expected to live long, nor will I accumulate much wealth in my life. My educational achievement will be minimum, and my life will be governed by power hungry men that seek to keep me and my people oppressed. This is racism at work. All of my life, I’ve dreamed, just like Breonna Taylor and Kamala Harris, carried the mantra of just got to make it, and pray that my decisions will lead me to a better tomorrow every single day. While those are the statistics that define my beginning, I’m also a two time college graduate, a small business owner, and a mentor and advocate that serves Detroit with every breath that I have. That is the power of community at work.
Kamilia Landrum: (09:16)
In my role as executive director for the Detroit branch NAACP, I’ve lived and I’ve seen both pandemics of racism and COVID-19 in our community. Over 1500 Detroiters died from complications of COVID. The US Census Bureau has held back resources to ensure an accurate count. Our voting rights are under attack. Inmates are pleading not to be moved 100 miles or more away from their families. Families are still demanding clean water. And everyone is praying that the next traffic stop, knock on the door, or day in the park will not be their last. Freedom fighters are the essential workers of democracy. We are the voice of the voiceless, and we find ways to give hope when all seems hopeless.
Kamilia Landrum: (10:04)
As I join you today, I’m at the Detroit Recovery Project where police officers and those who have struggled for victory are talking about improving community relations. That’s what I look forward to hearing Senator Harris talk about today, as she will never forget everyday people that need hope and inspiration, that putting people above finances and investing in family and education and jobs, that we can close wealth gaps. I want to hear about how she’s going to encourage us to take our souls to the polls and vote on November 3rd. Thank you for joining us today. We look forward to this conversation.
Lottie Joiner: (10:49)
Good afternoon. I am Lottie Joiner, editor of The Crisis Magazine, the official publication of the NAACP. As Ms. Landrum noted, year 2020 has been marked by two pandemics. We’ve seen a racial reckoning and continued to experience a deadly virus that has taken thousands of Black lives. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the long standing inequality and racial disparities in America. As editor of The Crisis Magazine, we’ve written about the digital divide in education, our seniors dying in nursing homes without family comfort or care, the essential workers having to make the difficult choice between providing for their families or risk being infected with a deadly virus, and the thousands of minority workers having been furloughed or laid off, not knowing how they will support their families, pay their rent, put food on the table, or take care of their health concerns.
Lottie Joiner: (11:56)
And while we were locked down and locked in, the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer. We heard of the death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. We learned of the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. And in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by a police officer. Our writers have written about the worldwide international protests and the new movement for Black lives. Our community has witnessed a passing of the baton as our veteran civil rights leaders, Representative John Lewis, Reverend C.T. Vivian, and Reverend Joseph Lowery completed their tasks on this earth. Today, we have a president who has not addressed the racial reckoning that our country is experiencing nor the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color.
Lottie Joiner : (12:58)
Today, we are honored to have vice presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, here on the last day of the NAACP’s 111th convention. Our readers of The Crisis Magazine want to know how do we get justice for Breonna Taylor? How do we go beyond the marching? How do we go beyond the protests and demonstrations? How will we address the continued inequities that exist in our nation, the systemic racism, the lack of jobs in low income communities, the lack of minorities in Silicon Valley, or bias in our criminal justice system? This is a new day in America. In November, we will go to the polls and we will be voting for our community. Thank you.
Chairman Russell: (14:00)
Good afternoon. And welcome to the 111th NAACP National Convention. This year is a year like none other. It’s a year that we convene virtually. But that’s great because it gives us an opportunity to bring more people into this convention scene. It gives us an opportunity to talk more to a greater audience about the need for change as we look at how public policy is developed in this nation. And so I’m pleased to be with you this afternoon for what I think is going to be a very impressive and very important conversation between two women whom I consider to be great visionaries and important people in the civil rights movement and the movement for social justice.
Chairman Russell: (15:01)
Our country, as Kamilia and Lottie have already told you, stands today in the middle of three specific but imperiling pandemics. First, a pandemic of health. COVID-19 has killed over 200,000 people in this country alone. Yet, public policy has not adapted to deal with the issue. We have an economic crisis that looms out of proportion because of our failure to deal with the health crisis. And because we have historically failed to create public policy that makes economic sustainability, economic empowerment available and accessible to all Americans. And then there is the historic pandemic. Pandemic that has been with us since the nation’s founding. And that simply is racism.
Chairman Russell: (16:13)
The failure of public policy in the United States of America, or as Maya Angelou might say, these as yet to be United States of America, has been exacerbated by the impact of racism through the years. Today, we see it in all facets of our lives, whether it be health, education, policing, housing, or any of the other areas that we deal with. And more specifically, certainly, our environment. So we at the NAACP are compelled to have conversations and encourage our communities to understand the impact of-
Chairman Russell: (17:03)
Communities to understand the impact of this triple pandemic on our society and particularly on the communities where we live. We at the NAACP have tried to provide information to our membership and to the broader community about the impact of public policy on all of us, and the need to recognize quite frankly that until the United States of American recognizes that black lives matter, then all of our lives in these United States stand in peril. The failure of our leaders to deal with public policy issues in a way that provides equity, in a way that provides justice, in a way that recognizes that we are in fact all equal as people. Until that day, we will continue to suffer as a nation. We will continue to see our communities collapse around us, and so this conversation this afternoon is extremely important.
Chairman Russell: (18:25)
It comes on the heels of a very important conversation that we had just last evening where we spoke about the importance of the power of black women in our system. The fact that we had representatives of the Divine Nine and other organizations representing black women on that panel, and the fact that it was led by Oprah Winfrey tell us how important black women are to this movement, and how important black women will be in this electoral season. As we at the NAACP look at public policy, we understand that presidential politics are extremely important. The president and the vice presidential team will be the leaders in terms of determining what public policy looks like, who will implement public policy, and how that public policy will impact our lives going forward. It’s very important for us to understand that yes, the presidential election heads the top of the ticket but we as a people, because public policy is made at the state and local level, must understand that we must participate at all levels. We must make sure that we complete our ballots at all levels.
Chairman Russell: (20:06)
Quite frankly, I have to tell you that in Kamilia’s city Detroit, in the last presidential election a huge number, over 30,000 people failed to vote the complete ticket, the complete ballot. As a result, some might say that an election was lost by failure of folks to look at the entire ballot and take it seriously. That’s why conversations like the one we will have this afternoon are extremely important. It’s extremely important to hear from the people who will be making and implementing that policy prior to an election, but it’s also important for us to understand the importance of accountability after the election. So, I hope that as we go through this conversation, that you will pay attention to what’s said. You will pay attention not just to what is promised, but you will during the next four years ensure that you understand the impact that these leaders will have on your life. So that in this election, you understand accountability is important but in the next election you will understand that you have to act based on your judgment of how politicians perform, how policy makers perform.
Chairman Russell: (21:44)
We are humbled to have as our host for this important conversation, Ms. Angela Rye. Now, Angela is considered an empowermenteur. Now, that’s a word that I find to be interesting, because it’s about empowerment but it’s also about mentoring people to empower themselves. She is an undiluted voice for our younger generation, and I think that’s interesting because I think Angela is a voice for every generation in this nation. The words that she puts out, the information that she provides is important for all of us to understand. Angela can be heard on CNN, on NPR, and on her podcast On One, providing critical political conversation and commentary for all of us. It’s necessary to hear her voice and understand what’s happening in this world where we live, so we are pleased that Angela is joining us. Joining us also shortly, as you already been informed, will be our guest of honor the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Democratic party in this year’s presidential election.
Chairman Russell: (23:19)
That candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, has a wealth of information and in fact, she represents a great step forward in history if you think about it. She will be the first black woman, the first Indian American woman to run for Vice President of these United States on any major party ticket. She’s already made history at the local level in San Francisco, at the state level as Attorney General of the State of California, and certainly as a United States Senator, and I would be remiss and Amos Brown would kill me if I did not say that she is one of his members. Dr. Amos Brown, a member of our Order of Directors and President of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP. Senator Harris joins us and joins with Angela to talk about those three global pandemics. The pandemic of racism, the pandemic of health, and that pandemic of economic injustice and we are so pleased to have both of them join us today. So, would you please welcome Angela Rye and Vice Presidential Candidate Senator Kamala Harris? Welcome, ladies.
Angela Rye: (24:56)
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. It is always a joy to partake in the convention of the NAACP. I think this is my second event. Life long member partially by force because of my dad, and now as an adult certainly want to be a part and always excited to support what you are doing, and of course shout out to my brother, the President Derrick Johnson. Senator Harris, it is so great to see you. I’ll refrain from call you Kamala today, because I think it’s so important that they put some respect on your name. So, I’m going to start. I lead by example. We know you are in the middle of debate prep. I wish I was in the room with you to give you some one liners, but hopefully we can get you ready and most comfortable today. How are you doing? How are you feeling?
Kamala Harris: (25:46)
I am well, Angela. So good to see you, and I just want to thank everybody, Chairman Russell, for that introduction. Thank you for mentioning not only the Head of the NAACP, but also my pastor, Dr. Amos Brown. Thank you to Derrick Johnson for your ongoing leadership. We talk so often these days about the importance of everything that is at stake, and making sure everyone’s voice is heard. So, it’s good to be with everyone, and Angela, it’s so good to see you and I’m good. One day at a time. 39 days before an election that will determine the course of history for generations to come.
Angela Rye: (26:25)
Yeah, it will. With that, I want to start because I know that part of what’s happening in debate prep is just they’ve got to get you with rapid rounds. So one of my favorite things to do for the podcast is a rapid round. Part of that is to just loosen us up and get ready to just dive right in. We want to consider this family talk. So, here we go. Let’s start.
Kamala Harris: (26:46)
Angela Rye: (26:46)
So, you are a proud AKA. How do you all normally greet each other?
Kamala Harris: (26:54)
With a hug, but not during COVID.
Angela Rye: (26:58)
Okay, what do you guys say? What’s the little thing you say?
Kamala Harris: (27:03)
Angela Rye: (27:07)
[crosstalk 00:27:07] week, but I’ll take it.
Kamala Harris: (27:08)
You know, when you go through the process of becoming one then we can have that conversation.
Angela Rye: (27:14)
Not happening. I am black and not Greek. I’m Eddie Rye’s child. Okay, next one. Did you know that you and Snoop Dogg share a birthday?
Kamala Harris: (27:24)
I did. I actually did, and I talked to him recently about voting actually. Yeah.
Angela Rye: (27:32)
I love it, I love it.
Kamala Harris: (27:33)
About all of us voting, yeah.
Angela Rye: (27:35)
Yeah, that’s really important right now.
Kamala Harris: (27:38)
Angela Rye: (27:38)
Okay, your favorite professor at Howard.
Kamala Harris: (27:44)
Dr. Hodgkins. There were so many, but I’ll start with him. He was, yeah. He was one of the ones who had been a real barrier breaker in his own career and life, but there’s so many and the thing about the professors at Howard is that they were the best and the brightest in their field. They could have taught anywhere that they wanted to teach, but they chose to teach us, and in that way really inspired us in ways that were very special and long lasting.
Angela Rye: (28:23)
Well now that Howard has their commercial from this too, this little plug, we’re going to keep going to rapid round. Okay, who threw-
Kamala Harris: (28:32)
Let me, in fairness, all HBCU. No, truly. That is an HBCU experience, and universal in that way.
Angela Rye: (28:41)
Okay. Who threw the best shade during the Democratic primary debates? You’ve got to pick one.
Kamala Harris: (28:50)
Angela Rye: (28:52)
Okay, okay. No, you could say yourself, you could say yourself. Okay, what’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Kamala Harris: (28:58)
Oh, a combination of things but read is one of the first things I do.
Angela Rye: (29:09)
Favorite thing to cook? The people don’t know you can slay down in the kitchen. What’s the [crosstalk 00:29:15]?
Kamala Harris: (29:14)
Yes, I can. A roast chicken. It’s my go to, uh-huh (affirmative).
Angela Rye: (29:20)
Then best rapper alive?
Kamala Harris: (29:24)
Angela Rye: (29:25)
He’s not alive. You said he lives on. You said he lives on.
Kamala Harris: (29:28)
I know, I keep doing that.
Angela Rye: (29:32)
Listen. West Coast girls think Tupac lives on. I’m with you, I’m with you so Tupac. Keep going.
Kamala Harris: (29:38)
I keep doing that. Who would I say? I mean, there’s so many. There are some that I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane, but others.
Angela Rye: (29:55)
I don’t know what that means.
Kamala Harris: (29:58)
Angela Rye: (29:58)
I want to know who one of those are.
Kamala Harris: (29:59)
Keep going, keep moving.
Angela Rye: (30:01)
Okay, all right.
Kamala Harris: (30:01)
Keep moving, Angela.
Angela Rye: (30:02)
All right. I think that was not supposed to be a stumper either. What about, okay. AKA was founded when and where?
Kamala Harris: (30:14)
In 1908 at Howard University.
Angela Rye: (30:16)
Another plug for Howard. Okay, person who you would fan girl over the most if you met them right now.
Kamala Harris: (30:26)
Angela, why are you doing this to me?
Angela Rye: (30:28)
Kamala Harris: (30:30)
The person I would fan girl the most. I don’t know, Beyoncé.
Angela Rye: (30:38)
Okay, Beyoncé. Then what about the last person you called? Who’s the last person you called?
Kamala Harris: (30:47)
The last person I called on the phone was my assistant to ask if we’re [crosstalk 00:30:55] running on time or not.
Angela Rye: (30:58)
Got to keep this in order. I hear that. Okay, the last thing I want to tell you is did you know, this is my last rapid round, did you know that Mina just made gumbo and made the base, the roux, with chickpea flour?
Kamala Harris: (31:13)
Oh, goodness. I did not know that.
Angela Rye: (31:17)
I told her I’ll tell you.
Kamala Harris: (31:17)
She didn’t need to do that, though. See, there are certain things you just don’t need to change, and just flour is how you make a roux.
Angela Rye: (31:26)
I know, I know.
Kamala Harris: (31:26)
You don’t need [crosstalk 00:31:27] to do chickpea flour. Right. Just good all purpose flour.
Angela Rye: (31:34)
I know, but I told her. I said, “I know what I’m going to say. Since you won’t give me anything, I’m telling on you.” So, I had to do that. Okay, so now. Today was a very significant day for you all, switching gears. You’ve already gone to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg lying in state at the capital, and I just want us to center for a minute about the importance of this moment, what the Supreme Court means, and why it’s so important for all of us not just to know who RBG was. As I sit here with one of these is Harriet and one of these is RBG by this company [inaudible 00:32:14] who also is making you one, they’re making a Kamala one. Yeah, women heroes but as we sit here thinking about her heroic career, why do people need to know about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Kamala Harris: (32:27)
Well I mean, that’s how I started today and what has been, in addition to everything else with 39 days before the election, where my head has been which is thinking about the importance of the United States Supreme Court, and the leaders of our nation who have sat on that court and changed the trajectory of our lives. The inspiration for me to become a lawyer was Thurgood Marshall, who of course trailed the way through his work up until being on the court for Brown V. Board of Education, which desegregated the schools of America.
Kamala Harris: (33:10)
I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg similarly. It’s interesting, because I think that there’s a lot of coverage that has been about the fame that she received late in life, but not understanding that her fame started when she was in her teenage years in terms of the work that she had been doing every step of the way to lay the foundation for equality for all people. With her focus having been an emphasis on women. Then when I was there this morning while she lay in state in the United States Capital, I’m the only black woman in the United States Senate.
Angela Rye: (33:52)
Kamala Harris: (33:54)
Only the second in the history of the United States Senate to have been elected. I’m looking at this casket laying in state. She is the first woman.
Kamala Harris: (34:02)
Casket lying in state. She is the first woman, the first woman ever.
Angela Rye: (34:06)
Kamala Harris: (34:10)
She was a petite woman and there was such an inverse relationship between her size and her stature, in terms of everything she achieved on, in our ongoing fight for civil rights. I think if you look at her jurisprudence, if you look at the way she set up the cases along the way, it was very much of that same methodology that Thurgood along with Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley, how they were thinking about how you set up precedent, one block at a time. I can’t help but think that she wanted to live much longer.
Angela Rye: (34:54)
Kamala Harris: (34:55)
But that she probably held on longer than most could because of that sheer determination sitting there. It was a very somber, it was a very somber way to start the day. I looked at her casket and I thought, “She earned the right to rest in peace. She earned the right to rest in peace.”
Angela Rye: (35:16)
Yet, we find ourselves in this position where the same day that we found out she was no longer with us, Donald Trump was tweeting about what he planned to do with his nominee. You just, of course, mentioned Constance Baker Motley. Now, you did in your acceptance speech as well for the Vice-Presidency. Who do you think, because we also know that Vice-President Biden has committed to nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court. When you think of some of the women who have inspired you, some of, may be your peers, some of us thought you would be a great Supreme Court Justice as well. We want you to have all the jobs apparently, but what are you thinking about? Who would be some great women, black women, that could serve in that role? To the extent [crosstalk 00:36:06]
Kamala Harris: (36:06)
There are so many. I’m not going to name any names, that Joe Biden will create his list at the appropriate time. But, there are many names of women I have worked with over the years who each have been trailblazers. The thing that I know about black women, whatever we do, but in particular, in the profession of law, because so many have been the first, is that when you are looking at who we’re talking about, you will see some of the brightest minds in law, as well as some of the people who are the most civic-minded. People who have lived a life of service, and all in the fight for justice for everybody. You and I have talked about this many times. Many of us may be the first to do many things, but there are a whole lot of us.
Angela Rye: (37:04)
Kamala Harris: (37:05)
I think that people mean it as a compliment sometimes when they look at you and say, “Oh, you’re special.” I think they may mean it as a compliment, but I think there’s another side to that, which is to suggest you’re the only one like you and therefore that you are alone. As I mentor young women and men, I remind them that no, don’t ever let anyone make you feel alone. There are a lot of us. We come with people, the pie is big enough so that we should be in every slice of that pie, and occupying every region of our society in roles of leadership. There are a lot of black women, is a long way of saying ,there are a lot of black women who have earned the right to be on a list to be the next Supreme Court Justice, and to fill the shoes of, of the legacy of Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so many others.
Angela Rye: (38:07)
I love that. I think too, again, as the Chairman talked about, we’re in the middle of so many pandemics and we know another one. After mourning the loss of Breonna Taylor for over 100 days, almost 200 days now, just wondering how you felt, because so often you’re asked to respond without tapping into your feelings, or even being able to express your feelings. How did you feel as a black woman hearing about the charges in the Breonna Taylor case or the lack thereof?
Kamala Harris: (38:44)
It was a gut punch, in many ways. I have been in conversations with her mother to make a [inaudible 00:38:54] for four months now. The first conversation that I had with her when she talked about her daughter and therefore the life that has now been lost. Breonna Taylor was a caregiver in her spirit and her nature. She cared for her grandmother. She cared for her family. She cared for her community. She cared for society. She cared for people she had never met, which is why she wanted to be, as her life dream, a nurse, but decided to first become an EMT, so she could respond to the call on the street, so that she would understand what was happening in the streets, on the ground and be able to respond immediately.
Kamala Harris: (39:45)
That’s why she became an EMT, with a life’s purpose and dream of becoming a nurse. She was beautiful inside and out in every way. It is tragic. I have been saying from the beginning that that her life deserves to be valued and to be honored. She and her family and the rest of the community deserve justice. They deserved justice then. They deserve justice today and they deserve justice tomorrow. It’s now become cliche, but it just remains true. I will not stop speaking her name.
Angela Rye: (40:35)
Speaking of speaking, her name, the Attorney General in the state, Daniel Cameron did just that at the RNC. He spoke her name. Then there are these charges for bullets shot into the home of her white neighbor, but not bullets that killed Breonna Taylor. Given the fact that you were a prosecutor, would you have pressed charges against the three officers involved in the case?
Kamala Harris: (41:00)
Well, I don’t know all the details of the case, but I will say this, that there needs to be transparency about what happened, and that family and that community deserve justice. That’s just the bottom line.
Angela Rye: (41:20)
Speaking of justice, I know that you attended at least one, one that I know of, one where you were caught, BLM protest incognito, and you went to just stand in solidarity. How does that compare to the way Donald Trump talks about Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization? What do you say back to, maybe some of his supporters and folks who are confused about what BLM actually stands for and what it means, especially with given the fact that Patrice and Opal and Alicia were on the front page or the cover of Time Magazine as 100 women or 100 People That Would Change the World?
Kamala Harris: (42:07)
Well, and good for Time Magazine for doing that, because they have, and the brilliance and the impact of Black Lives Matter and their brilliance in conceiving it, history is going to show was an inflection point in the ongoing fight for justice, to your point, and to reform the criminal justice system and America’s criminal justice system. I actually believe, as a former prosecutor, that Black Lives Matter has been the most significant agent for change within the criminal justice system, because it has been a counterforce to the force within the system that is so grounded in status quo and in its own traditions, many of which have been harmful and have been discriminatory in the way that they’ve been enforced. Being there, being at the protest, I mean, I grew up in protest. My, parents were active in the Civil Rights Movement, as you know, so it’s nothing new.
Kamala Harris: (43:18)
I’ve been in marches since I was in a stroller. When I was at Howard University, I was protesting against apartheid. I mean, it’s nothing new for me. But, being there, at this point in terms of, honoring the life of George Floyd and Breonna and Ahmaud Arbery, and we can go down the list, sadly, a long list. It is about, I think, a community and the country speaking out, understanding that nothing that we have achieved that has been about progress in this country has come without a fight. Nothing that we have achieved in our country that has been about progress, and in particular around civil rights has come without a fight.
Kamala Harris: (44:07)
I always, I’m going to interpret these protests as an essential component of evolution in our country, as an essential component, a mark of a real democracy and as necessary, as necessary. The people’s voices must be heard. It is often the people who must speak to get their government to do what it is supposed to do, but may not do naturally unless the people speak loudly, and obviously peacefully, but speak loudly.
Angela Rye: (44:45)
You mentioned the name of George Floyd, and of course, you led the charge with Senator Booker and the Congressional Black Caucus on the House side for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Is that a bill, Senator Harris that you would urge Vice-President Biden to sign into law in his first 30 days, for example, as President?
Kamala Harris: (45:09)
The Justice and Policing Act, and yes, Cory Booker ,my brother in the Senate we led it on the Senate side, but then got a lot of senators to sign onto it in the House Side, our fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and brought together a bipartisan group to support it. It does a number of things, which Joe Biden has, without any hesitation said that he will do in our administration, including banning choke holds and carotid holds. Let’s be clear. George Floyd would be alive today, if those carotid and choke holds had been banned, creating a national standard for use of force. Why is that important? Well, because where there have been cases that might be able to go to court, where an officer has used excessive force, it is often the case that the standard that’s applied makes it difficult to actually prove the case and win the case.
Kamala Harris: (46:08)
Because, here’s what happens. In many jurisdictions, in the case of excessive force, the question that is asked is, was the use of force reasonable. As we know, you can reason away just about anything. What we’re saying is, no, the just the fair question to ask is, was that use of force necessary. That’s about changing the standard. One of the things that Joe Biden feels strongly about is we need to have basically, a national center where we are keeping the names and keeping track of police officers who have broken the rules and broken the law.
Kamala Harris: (46:46)
Why? Well, because again, so many of the cases don’t go to court because they may not be provable, based on the standard or there’s a prosecutor who is unwilling to do it. But they will often go through an administrative hearing, right? It may result in that police officer being fired, but because there’s been no court record of it and no established record of it, that officer can move to another jurisdiction and apply to another police department, and that record doesn’t follow them.
Kamala Harris: (47:20)
We’re saying there needs to be a central database with this information, so we can keep track of these things. We will eliminate the death penalty. We will eliminate private prisons, eliminate cash bail. I’ve been a leader on that in the United States Senate. Cash bail is not only a criminal justice issue, it’s an economic justice issue. Meaning, people are sitting in jail because they don’t have the money to get out. Meanwhile, the person who has been charged with the same offense and has money, is out exercising freewill, and liberty, right? Out there, they’re able to walk the streets. That’s an economic justice issue, so we’ll get rid of cash bail as well. These are some of the things we’ll do.
Angela Rye: (48:08)
Speaking of economic justice, Donald Trump wrote out today a $500 billion economic justice plan for black Americans. What I think is important is for people to hear some of your commitments, some of Joe Biden’s commitments to black folks is people try to say, right, the lesser of two evils, again. It’s the same thing we heard in 2016. How can you just refute that outright? How has this not the lesser of two evils, after 200,000 and counting, people have died from coronavirus in this country at the hands of this irresponsible president. That’s not NAACP’s words. Those are mine, but I do want to point that out when you talk about what’s happened with COVID and the response that you all would have.
Angela Rye: (48:57)
When you talk about his $500 billion plan and the response that you all would have, specifically to black people, thinking about Alicia is Black to the Future, Black Agenda, 2020. Thinking about Ice Cube’s contact with Black America, some people are saying in order to turn out, Senator Harris, I need to know what you’re going to do for me. What do I get in return for my vote? How do you respond to that?
Kamala Harris: (49:22)
That’s absolutely right. People have a right to have their vote earned. Nobody should be saying to any anybody, and especially to our folks, that you’re supposed to vote for us. That’s insulting. We need to earn the vote. So, let’s talk about the economic piece ,and I’m not going to even go into the fact that by the way, Donald Trump refuses to say black lives matter and Joe Biden said it. But let’s put that aside. In terms of the proactive, earning the vote, one of the things that is very important to Joe Biden and certainly to all of us, is that we understand, when you talk about criminal justice, we’ve got to reimagine public safety and how we achieve it. Here’s what I mean.
Kamala Harris: (50:16)
If you go into any upper, middle-class neighborhood in America, you will not see the kind of police presence you see in other neighborhoods. But, what you will see are well-funded public schools. What you will see are high rates of home ownership. What you will see are small businesses that have access to capital. What you will see are communities that can get healthcare and afford it, including mental health care. What you will see are people who have jobs that allow them to get through the end of the month without worrying about whether they can feed their children. Healthy communities are safe communities so it is an outdated way of thinking-
Kamala Harris: (51:03)
… safe communities. So it is an outdated way of thinking to think the way you create safe communities is only by putting more police officers on the street. You want to see safe communities? Invest in the health and wellbeing of those communities. So I say all that to say that part of what our plan is is about $150 billion going into low interest loans and access to capital with an emphasis on black-owned and minority-owned businesses. We know that our small businesses are part of the lifeblood of our communities.
Kamala Harris: (51:37)
I was just in Detroit, Seven Mile Road. Right? And you can go to any city in America and see, usually it’s called MLK Way. But you will see all of those businesses and what they are in terms of those leaders being not only business leaders, but civic leaders and community leaders, right? So the infusion of capital and access to capital for our small businesses, knowing… And wherever they are. And I’m joking about MLK Way. You know what I’m saying, right? [crosstalk 00:52:05] But it is… Say what?
Angela Rye: (52:08)
I said, no, that’s real though, except for where I’m from it’s gentrified by now.
Kamala Harris: (52:12)
Yeah. Right. But where… Because we have such great entrepreneurial spirit. And it is not the lack of that. It is the lack of access to capital that has held those businesses back. So access to capital.
Kamala Harris: (52:26)
Home ownership. I mean, we know in terms of history of our country, nobody got 40 acres and a meal. We had a history of redlining. We had a history of… After World War II, when all those mostly men came back from war, the government said, “We’re going to make this greatest generation a strong middle class.” And they gave federal support for people to engage in home ownership. But black servicemen were pretty much left out. Right?
Kamala Harris: (52:55)
So when you saw a real infusion of capital around home ownership, the black community didn’t get that either. And so we also know that home ownership is one of the greatest sources of wealth of any American family, and also the greatest sources of intergenerational wealth, meaning grandmother passes it down to the children who would pass it down to the grandchildren. So that’s going to be about a $15,000 tax credit to help first-time homeowners put for down payment or closing cost to buy a home.
Kamala Harris: (53:28)
Title I funding, tripling Title I funding so that Title I funding is about schools and in particular schools that are in low tax base communities, which are the least funded and tend to the have the most of our children.
Kamala Harris: (53:44)
It’s about saying that we need to deal with access to health care. One of the biggest impediments to allowing people to not only be healthy, but to thrive. Donald Trump is in court right now in the Supreme Court with his boy Bill Barr trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama together with Vice President Biden created that brought health care to over 20 million people, including saying that you cannot ban people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer. You cannot ban them from access to health care. This is what President Obama did as one of the most significant public policy initiatives since the creation of Social Security. And Donald Trump has been trying to get rid of it since the day he got in office, like he’s been trying to get rid of everything that President Obama together with Vice President Biden created.
Angela Rye: (54:47)
Kamala Harris: (54:47)
On the other hand and in the middle of a public health pandemic that, by the way, black people are three times as likely to contract, twice as likely to die from. On the other hand, you have Joe Biden who was saying, ” We are going to increase access to health care and make sure that we address the fact that we also need to deal with mental health care.” The way I think about it, Angela, is the problem with what we’ve done with health care is we act as though the body starts from the neck down instead of also dealing with the health care from the neck up.
Angela Rye: (55:18)
Kamala Harris: (55:19)
And that includes all of the trauma, all of the undiagnosed and untreated trauma, that are barriers to people with incredible capacity actually reaching that capacity. So these are some of the things that we will do that are about earning the vote of folks. And that’s on top of, as you said, nominating the first black woman to the United States Supreme Court. That’s on top of what we talked about in terms of criminal justice reform.
Kamala Harris: (55:50)
That’s on top of all that we need to do around environmental issues, including… I was just in Flint. What we need to do to invest in healthy water and infrastructure and building up and repairing infrastructure, often which is the most dilapidated in our communities, including our schools and public schools, which are falling apart. So in the middle of the COVID virus, where in the winter months, they can’t bring the kids inside because the ventilation is so bad and we won’t let them drink from the water fountain because that’s toxic water. We need to improve infrastructure. That’s also about jobs. These are the things that we will do. And so I do believe that is a very, very strong foundation of what is necessary not only to get us to the next phase and to build back better, as we say it, but also to acknowledge the inequities that have long existed that need to be addressed.
Angela Rye: (56:51)
The last thing that-
Chairman Russell: (56:53)
Angela Rye: (56:53)
I would love from you quickly is I talked to one of your former co-chairs of your campaign, Louisiana State Rep Ted James, earlier. Talked about the first time he talked to you how he felt home girl vibes. And as we know, for whatever reason, there’s this targeting of black men by the Trump campaign with a lot of information about you that’s not even true. So as you think about your home girl vibes, and one of my favorite things about you is not only how well you listen to us, but when you come back even if I’m hollering or whatever, it’s always this calm, even keeled this is just what we got to do. So if you had a moment to talk to young black men, especially young black men, about why it is so important this time that they vote and participate, vote and engage others, what would you say to them if this was your message that was going to go straight into their homes?
Kamala Harris: (57:59)
First of all, I’ll say this, there is not a black woman or man who gives birth to their son, who from the first time they hold that baby in their hand, do not start praying that the life of that child through his life will be safe and respected and valued. And that’s a reality in America. We need leadership in our country who respects and values that life from the day he is born through the course of his life in a way that understands and respects the role historically that he has played to help build this nation and the role he plays around the world in his role of leadership. And we have so many examples of that. That history, which by the way, Donald Trump is trying to ignore or erase, see his 619 Project, 1619, right? So there is that.
Kamala Harris: (59:25)
On the issue of voting, I would say this, and this is to everybody. From forever they’ve been denying us the right to vote. That’s why John Lewis shed his blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They have put in place poll taxes. They have tried to purge the voter rolls. We’d be talking about Governor Stacey Abrams. If the kinds of obstacles that they have tried to put in the way of black people had not been there. You can look at after Shelby v. Holder, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and almost two dozen states put in place laws that were designed to suppress or intimidate black people from voting. So much so that in North Carolina, a Court of Appeals said that that law was passed by that legislature with quote surgical precision to make it difficult for black people to vote.
Kamala Harris: (01:00:24)
And I bring all of this up, Angela, when you ask about voting to say this, it is critical that we honor the ancestors of which John Lewis is now one who shed their blood for our right to vote. And for that reason that we vote. It is critical we vote because everything is on the line from health care to access to capital to the criminal justice system. And the decision we make about who will be the next President of the United States will determine the outcome of all of those issues.
Kamala Harris: (01:00:59)
And I would say as the third point this, let us sit back for a minute and ask a question, which is why are so many powerful people trying to make it so difficult for us to vote? Why is it that so many powerful people are trying to make us confused about how we can vote, where we can vote, if we can vote. And I’ll say the answer is probably obvious because they know when we vote, things change. They know the power of our vote. They know the power of our vote. And so in this election, let us not let anyone take our power from us. They know the power of our vote. We know the power of our vote. So let’s use it. Let’s use it. And to all my brothers out there, I need you. We need you. Your country needs you. So please vote.
Chairman Russell: (01:02:08)
Wow. Wow. Want to thank both of you. That was a powerful ending. Senator Harris, thank you for always being a voice in the Senate. You and Senator Booker has been the bellwether of what’s important for black America. Angela, as always, great interview. I was being pushed. I got to jump in. Senator got to go. But it was so rich I couldn’t jump in. So the power of black women in this moment is unmeasurable. So thank both of you. Senator Harris, we can’t endorse. We’re non-partisan.
Kamala Harris: (01:02:45)
Just pray for me.
Angela Rye: (01:02:47)
I can. I did.
Chairman Russell: (01:02:47)
Look here. You know. You know. This is great. I want to thank both of you for the opportunity to allow our delegates, our members, and just the viewers of this virtual convention. We are beyond proud that we are in this moment. On last night, Oprah Winfrey convened a group of black women, and we had a great conversation. And I thought that couldn’t be matched, but those close remarks was so powerful. They know the power of our vote. We cannot take it for granted. We must vote like we’ve never voted before as John Lewis said this past March on Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Chairman Russell: (01:03:24)
To the delegates and friends, thank you for joining this most important conversation. Every four years, we bring together powerful voices as we look at the presidential election. This year is like no other. There is so much at stake. It goes beyond just individuals on the ballot. It goes to the value proposition that it represent. Someone said earlier today that it goes beyond who’s in the White House. It goes to who will occupy our house if you think about Breonna Taylor, when those individuals occupied her house. So thank you all for joining this most important conversation as we prepare to conclude 111 National Convention of the NAACP. On tomorrow, we do our legislative session.
Chairman Russell: (01:04:17)
We must vote like we’ve never voted before. And many of you are members who are watching. We know you’re going to vote. So this is not about you. This is about you signing up for our program so we can help you identify 10 people in your community, 10 people in your neighborhood. And unfortunately, some of those 10 people may actually be in your home. We have to make sure all of our community participate up and down the ballot so that the government that we own reflect the government that we need. Thank you all very much for this opportunity.