Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris talks maternal health with Olympian Allyson Felix CDFIs have proven they're the right tool to help small business, let's give them what they need to do the job The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Omicron tests vaccines; Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (D-Calif.) is on the cover for Elle magazine’s November issue, in which the senator participates in a broad interview spanning racial inequality, her upbringing and President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE.
In her interview with journalist Ashley Ford, Harris starts off by discussing her experience attending a civil rights march in Oakland, Calif., where she was born, as a child. At the time, Harris had been in a stroller with her parents, both activists who immigrated from Jamaica and India, and had fallen out at one point.
Eventually, Harris said her parents, who had continued marching afterward, noticed her absence and returned to get her.
“My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing, and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom,’” she said.
During her childhood, Harris, who also previously served as a former prosecutor and later as attorney general of California before becoming the second Black woman and first South Asian-American to become U.S. senator in 2017, said there “was no question that you had to dedicate yourself to fighting for justice on some level or another.”
“That the measure of you is so much bigger than you; it’s the impact you have, it’s what you do in service to others,” Harris, whose godmother, Mary Lewis, also helped establish San Francisco State University's Black studies department, continued. “And that’s how I was raised. I was raised that it is not about charity and benevolence, it’s about your duty. No one’s going to congratulate you for it—it’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Ford also pressed the senator on her meaning of justice in the interview, to which, Harris responded: "It’s about freedom, it’s about equality, it’s about dignity. When you achieve equality, and freedom, and fairness, it’s not because I grant it to you. It’s because you fought for it because it is your right.”
“This is not about benevolence or charity; it is about every human being’s God-given right. What do we collectively do to fight for that? That’s what justice represents to me—it’s about empowerment of the people,” said Harris, who is also the first Black woman and Indian American to run as vice president on a major party presidential ticket.
As protests against racism and police brutality continue in parts of the country from spring, summer and into fall following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, Harris vowed in the interview to keep supporting “the brilliance of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“What I hope and pray is that we can get to a point where, through what are undoubtedly difficult conversations, we confront the real history of America,” Harris said. “Doing it in a way that is motivated by love, but also is fully honest.”
Harris credited optimism during the interview as the “fuel driving every fight” she has been in and said her “motivation comes from believing in what can be unburdened by what has been.”
“John LewisJohn LewisDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one MORE, the dearly departed, like many others shed blood on that bridge. Because he really believed in what could be. It will often feel like [we are only] against something, but the motivation that carries us through, with any longevity, is knowing what we’re fighting for,” the senator told the magazine.
She also spoke briefly about Trump during the interview while discussing the night she was elected senator in California years back.
“In every one of my elections, part of our routine is we do a small friends-and-family dinner before we go to the campaign night celebration,” she told the magazine.
When it became clearer that night that Trump was going to win the election, Harris recalled a conversation she had with her godson.
“My godson, Alexander, who was seven years old at the time, came up to me, crying, and said, ‘Auntie Kamala, they’re not going to let that man win, are they?’ And you know the babies in your life … I held him,” she said.
“I mean, it still brings me pain to remember how he felt, and what it made me feel, which is that I needed to protect this child. I had one way, in my mind, I thought the evening would go. And then there was the way it turned out. And so by the time I took the stage, I had ripped up my notes, and all I had was Alexander in my heart. And I took the podium and I said, ‘I intend to fight. I intend to fight,’” she said.