Kamala Harris banks on black colleges

Wednesday 24th April 2019 02:35 EDT

Orangeburg: California Senator Kamala Harris has described her experience as a student at a historically black college as “one of the most important aspects" of her life. Now, her Democratic presidential campaign is using that experience to connect with voters. Not only is she one of only two black candidates in a field that’s expected to grow to more than 20 candidates, she’s also the only candidate who attended a historically black college or university, commonly called an HBCU.

And she’s the first major-party candidate to have graduated from an HBCU - Washington’s Howard University - since Jesse Jackson ran for president in the 1980s. To be sure, she is not the only candidate focusing on such institutions. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke have campaigned at historically black colleges. So has the other black candidate in the 2020 race, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Harris’s campaign has visited more historically black colleges than any candidate, and she is burnishing her personal ties to this community, and not just to current students. “Presidential candidates are recognising HBCUs as a political and cultural center for the broader black community,” said Aimee Allison, the founder of the political network She The People, which plans a candidate forum at Texas Southern University, a historically black college.

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