Senator Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark who has projected an upbeat political presence at a deeply polarized time, entered the 2020 race for president on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the second black president in American history.
Mr. Booker, in a morning email sent to supporters, drew on the spirit of the civil rights movement as he laid out his vision for a country that will “channel our common pain back into our common purpose.”
“The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” Mr. Booker said in an accompanying video:
The U.S. is one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality rates are worse than they were two decades ago. And that alarming statistic hits one group of women the hardest.
For women of color, pregnancy and childbirth are often a matter of life and death. The risk of death from pregnancy-related causes for black women is three to four times higher than for women of other races. It’s something California Senator Kamala Harris has been vocal about in the past. And she’s pushing to make sure this maternal mortality crisis is being recognized and rectified through new legislation, as well.
Harris (along with 13 Democratic colleagues) introduced a bill Wednesday that she hopes will help lessen the discrepancies in treatment. The Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Actwould create two grant programs. One will address implicit bias based on stereotypes by supporting special training programs in medical, nursing, and other training schools. The other will incentivize maternal health care providers to offer integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities.
“Health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system,” Harris said in a press release.
The maternal health of black women has long been suffered in the dark, but in recent months we’ve heard harrowing stories of pregnancy and childbirth complications from two of the most famous women in the world: Serena Williams and Beyoncé.
Williams has been incredibly open about her emergency C-section, followed by blood clots in her lungs that threatened her life and required further surgery. And the intensely private Beyoncé revealed in Vogue‘s September issue that she had been on bed rest prior to the birth of twins Rumi and Sir due to toxemia (or preeclampsia) which causes swelling and hypertension. She, too, required an emergency C-section as her life, and the lives of her twins, were at risk.
According to the CDC, the cause of an increase of pregnancy-related mortalities in America is unclear. For women of color, who face a myriad of health care disparities from access to racial bias perpetuated by stereotypes, the combination has proved life-threatening. Racism, researchers say, is at the center of this crisis.
“For example, even when we take medical history into account, black women are two to three times more like to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women with the same condition. And while maternal mortality rates are certainly greater for poor women than wealthier women, poverty alone can’t explain these disparities either. An analysis of maternal deaths in New York City found that black women who had at least a college degree still had greater mortality rates than white women who had not graduated high school,” obstetrician and gynecologist Jamila Perritt wrote for Glamour after Williams came forward with her childbirth experience.
“The bottom line is, black women are dying wholly preventable deaths.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Sen. Harris’ bill could face an “uphill battle” given that Republicans currently control Congress and few bills may pass in an election year. Other sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“This bill is a step towards ensuring that all women have access to culturally competent, holistic care, and to address the implicit biases in our system,” Harris said.
This year, Equal Pay Day was on April 4 to mark the extra three months and a few days that women in general have to work in order to make as much as men do in a year, with the pay gap at around 80 cents to the dollar. But the gap is worse when you take race into account, with Black women only making 67 cents to every dollar.
Thus, Black women have to work 19 months to make what white men make in 12. To mark the day, celebrities and other notable women have all come together to stand for equal pay for all women, especially those who are disadvantages twice over.
While many celebrities, such as Tracee Ellis Ross, took to Twitter to explain the significance of the date, others used the platform to specifically call for change. “We need to do more to address the economic injustice that exists at the intersection of gender & race. #BlackWomensEqualPay,” wrote Senator Kamala Harris.
Others, like Remy Ma, expressed messages of consolidation and support: “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are phenomenal & they deserve equal pay.”
The Democratic Party relies on Black women to be the most consistent and engaged progressive constituency, but rarely supports their political leadership. A group of 27 Black female political advocates and leaders released an open letter demanding that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez stop taking them for granted.”We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic party for voter mobilization efforts,” reads the letter, which was published by NBC BLK yesterday (May 24).
“We have shown how Black women lead, yet the party’s leadership, from Washington to the state parties, have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections—with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.'”
The letter’s signatories include elected officials like U.S. congress members Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty (both D-OH) alongside advocates like Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory and Higher Heights for America’s Glynda Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen. The group collectively recognizes electoral victories by senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and state-level politicians that, despite their strategic importance, did not compel Black women’s inclusion in DNC leadership: Black women also made important progressive wins in Minnesota, where IIhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim elected to the state legislature; Kentucky, where Attica Scott became the first woman elected to the state legislature in 20 years; Cook County, Illinois, where Kim Foxx was elected state’s attorney; Orange County, Florida, [where Aramis Ayala became] the first Black state’s attorney in Florida’s history; the state of Texas, [which] elected its first woman Sheriff, Zena Stephens; and Jefferson County, Alabama, [which] elected nine Black women to the judicial branch.
This February, in the DNC elections, we saw an increase in overall diversity within the officer ranks, but no increase in leadership representation of Black women. Since taking office, you have met with and listened to key constituencies. But you have yet to host a Black women leaders convening.”Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women,” the signers continue. “In the absence of our inclusion in discussions about the Party’s forward movement, we question whether the Party values our loyalty and takes our commitment seriously.”The letter ends with a call for Perez to meet with Black women leaders, which he has yet to publicly confirm or reject. Read the full letter on NBCnews.com.
United States Senator Kamala D. Harris will be delivering the commencement address at Howard University on May 13, according to an announcement from the university.
“Throughout her trailblazing career, Senator Harris has demonstrated her commitment to youth in a variety of ways,” said Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick. “She is a leader in mentorship programs, has authored legislation to fight child exploitation and unashamedly shattered both racial and gender barriers. As we exclaim the necessity of Howard University’s legacy — now more than ever before — and focus our vision toward the future, I have no doubt that our graduates will find Senator Harris thought-provoking and inspiring.”
Harris, who graduated from Howard in 1986, was the first woman to serve as the Attorney General for the State of California and was the second ever African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. “Howard shaped, nurtured, and challenged me to soar on my chosen path, and I’m honored to speak to the class of 2017 to encourage them to pursue their own dreams and live up to the promise of Howard,” said Senator Harris.
Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.
The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government. “He will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.
Such a task typically falls to the state attorney general. On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate. Becerra, whose nomination hearings in the Legislature begin next week, is expected to be easily confirmed.
But De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon began contemplating hiring outside legal counsel for the Legislature almost immediately after Trump’s election, in hopes of protecting existing state policies that are at odds with the president-elect’s stated positions.
Before friends and family in a packed chamber, Kamala Harris was sworn in as California’s newest U.S. senator Tuesday morning. She became the first black woman the Golden State has sent to the Senate and the first Indian American to ever serve in the body.
Harris, 52, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden shortly after 9 a.m. PT as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her new Senate colleagues looked on. Harris’ husband, Los Angeles attorney Doug Emhoff, her stepchildren, brother-in-law Tony West, sister Maya Harris, extended family as well as several state officials from across the country who traveled to celebrate with the now former state attorney general watched from the gallery.
“Whatever advice she wants, all she has to do is ask,” Feinstein said. “I have said to her that I would like to have a close relationship.”
Feinstein and Harris met repeatedly in the weeks since the election, with Feinstein sharing advice on how to set up the largest Senate office in the country, including how to deal with the up to 100,000 emails, letters and phone calls that can come into a California senator’s office in a given week.
Harris, one of seven new senators, replaces Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retired after 24 years in the Senate.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris made history Tuesday night when she won the Senate race and became the second Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Harris, an Oakland native, will replace Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who intends to retire 23 years as a California senator. The last African-American woman elected to the senate was Carol Moseley Braun (D, Illinois) who served one term, from 1993-1999.
The Howard University graduate’s platforms included criminal justice, abortion rights and immigration reform. She beat out fellow Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez for the hotly contested race.
A career prosecutor, Harris, whose mother is Indian and father is Jamaican, not only becomes the second Black woman in the senate, she’s also the first Indian woman in the position. For her run, Harris won endorsements from President Barack Obama and California Governor Jerry Brown.
In an interview with ESSENCE earlier this year, Harris, 52, pledged “to ensure our children have a fair shot in school and in life by passing universal prekindergarten legislation.”
“This issue is important to all, but for Black women, poor women, working women, it’s about economic empowerment,” she added.
Harris joins two African-American men in the 100-member Senate: Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey). “Kamala is one of the most exciting leaders in the country right now,” Booker told ESSENCE. “She brings an incredible combination of life experiences and skills that are sorely needed on issues like prison reform, empowering victims, addiction and violence. And she has actually run [and managed] something, and shown herself to be a creative problem solver.”
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris was declared the top vote-getter Tuesday night in the state’s open race for the U.S. Senate, as a bevy of primary candidates competed for the other spot on the fall ballot.
With 13% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Harris, 51, who was long seen as the front-runner in a crowded field of 34 candidates.
The most prominent challenger, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange, is a Democrat like Harris. Should they finish in the top two spots once all the votes are counted, it would mark the first time in a statewide election in which a Republican failed to make the November ballot.
Sanchez was second in early returns, followed by a trio of Republicans: former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim, attorney Phil Wyman, and former GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro.
Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris won the coveted California Democratic Party endorsement for U.S. Senate on Saturday, solidifying her status as the front-runner and delivering a setback to her top rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
Harris captured 78.1% of the votes to earn the state Democrats’ official seal of approval. It’s a prize that provides her with a clear edge in the June 7 primary and, most likely, financial support from the party.
The endorsement came after the two Democratic Senate candidates, running to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, made their final pitches to local activists and other elected officials.
Harris asked Democrats to help her deliver a “more perfect union” and Sanchez asked them to trust her experience and record over other candidates’ “talk.”
But Harris prevailed in a landslide. Of the 2,139 ballots cast, 19.3% were for Sanchez and 2.6% voted for no endorsement at all. Their back-to-back speeches, the warm-up acts before Vice President Joe Biden took the stage, capped a furious two days of campaigning by both women.
Sanchez spoke of her hardscrabble upbringing, cleaning homes to help one of her brothers pay for college, and how her Mexican immigrant parents’ hard work and perseverance allowed them to achieve the American dream. The congresswoman emphasized her record and experience in Washington and received the warmest response when extolling her votes against the Iraq war, the bank bailout and the Patriot Act.
“While other candidates talk about boldly changing in Washington, I’ve done it for 20 years,” Sanchez said, taking a subtle dig at Harris. “Experience matters, and I will hit the ground running in the Senate.”
Harris walked onto the stage to rousing applause and described the life-shaping experience of growing up in the Bay Area as the daughter of two civil rights activists. Harris’ speech hewed to the high ideals of the Democratic Party and the “poison” politics consuming the Republican presidential race. She vowed to protect and restore the fundamental rights of all Americans.
“For far too many, liberty and justice for all is a promise we have failed to keep,” Harris said.