After announcing her presidential candidacy Jan. 21, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, formally kicked off her campaign at a rally in her hometown of Oakland Sunday afternoon.
After an invocation by Pastor Demetrius Edwards, Harris was introduced by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf. With a crowd of over 20,000 people, Harris took the stage at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, starting her speech about her hometown and her slogan, “Kamala Harris, for the people.”
“We are at an inflection point in in the history of our nation.” Harris said at the rally. “We are here because the American Dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before. We are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question. Who are we? Who are we as Americans?”
Harris focused the first part of her speech on her legal career as the district attorney of San Francisco and California attorney general. Harris stated that “the people” were her one client her whole life, and that she dedicated herself to them by advocating for sexual assault survivors and a more fair criminal justice system, as well as fighting against transnational gangs and their drug and human trafficking activities.
Heidi Marie Wilson, a 58-year-old Iowa resident, traveled from Burlington, Iowa to Oakland for the rally. Wilson said she has never met Harris, but followed her career and admired her for years.
“She’s a role model,” Wilson said. “She’s so passionate. She has moral characters. She has knowledge and experience. She’s exactly what the United States needs. I just want this to be a world of love, kindness, compassion and empathy. That’s what I want, and I believe Kamala Harris can bring this to the White House.”
Campus sophomore Tooba Wasi came to the rally to hear Harris’s speech about the platforms she’s running on. Wasi supported Harris’s progressive platforms, such as women and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as bringing back “moral leadership to America.”
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Harris has been a prominent critic of President Donald Trump and spoke at length about the current administration’s stances on press freedom, border security and health care, claiming that it does not represent “our America.” In her speech, Harris called for “Medicare of All,” universal pre-school and debt-free college, as well as a large working and middle-class tax cut.
“As of now, I think she’s a candidate I support the most, because not only her experience in Congress but the charisma she has would make her a really powerful leader,” Wasi said. “I’m a political science major in Berkeley, and it’s just really powerful to see myself reflected in a candidate who is running on platforms I’m believing in.”