By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Sen. Kamala Harris made her first stop in Alabama over the weekend as a Democratic candidate for U.S. President and spoke about the state’s recent near total ban on abortion as well as a number of other issues.
Harris was in Birmingham Friday at the UAB Hilton Hotel and in Montgomery on Saturday as keynote speaker for the Alabama Democratic Conference Kennedy-Johnson-King Luncheon.
In Birmingham, the junior senator from California addressed a packed room crowd.
“There is a full on attack against women and their access to reproductive healthcare and we are going to fight it every day of the week,” said Harris. “[If elected president] what I will do is require that my Department of Justice review any state law that limits access to a woman’s ability to have reproductive healthcare . . . and review it for constitutionality and until it clears constitutional muster that law cannot go into effect.”
Harris also talked about the gender pay gap that needs to be addressed.
“Women have not been paid the same as men for equal work and we had the Equal Pay Act back in 1963 and yet today, women are paid on average 80 cents on the dollar, black women are paid 61 cents on the dollar, Native American women 58 cents on the dollar, Latina women 53 cents on the dollar (compared to men) and it’s completely unacceptable,” said Harris.
Harris also spoke about problems in the education system.
“We pretend to care about education but not so much the education of other people’s children,” said Harris. “I’ve been traveling the country and I can’t tell you the number of teachers I have met who are working two, sometimes three, jobs and 94 percent of the teachers in our public school system [pay out of] their own pocket to help their schools. Teachers on average in our country make 11 percent less than similarly educated professions… there are two types of people that raise our children and those are parents with the assistant of grandparents and aunties and uncles and our teachers, but we are not paying them their value.”
Harris talked about the importance of teachers.
“Mrs. Francis Wilson, my first-grade teacher attended my law school graduation and a lot of people have this same exact story because there was some teacher along the way who convinced us we were special. We weren’t particularly special but they told us we were and we believed them which put us on a path to being under one roof tonight making a decision about who might be the next President of the United States,” said Harris.
Lisa Provost, a Birmingham resident, attended the event and said she was thrilled by what she heard.
“I have a lot of hope and I really felt like she was speaking to all of us and she wasn’t talking at us and she sounded like she was open, had great ideas, she brought some policy to the table… I just think she’s a very great candidate.”