Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is standing by her support for busing as an effective tool the federal government should use to help desegregate schools.
The 2020 presidential candidate doubled down on her busing comments Sunday in San Francisco after participating in the city’s Pride Parade, according to Bloomberg.
“I support busing,” she told reporters outside city hall. “Listen, the schools of America are as segregated, if not more segregated today than when I was in elementary school. And we need to put every effort, including busing, into play to desegregate the schools.”
The former California attorney general’s comments came just days after she dominated the second night of the first 2020 presidential debate in Miami, largely due to her friction with former Vice President Joe Biden on the topics of busing and desegregation.
Busing is considered a controversial means of racially integrating public schools by transporting children to schools farther away than the ones in their own neighborhood. Harris, the second black woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate, said she was a beneficiary of busing as part of the second class to integrate public schools in her area.
On Thursday night, Harris recounted the racial discrimination she experienced growing up, then told Biden she found it personally hurtful that he boasted about working with notoriously segregationist senators to oppose issues like busing.
Biden initially supported busing during his 1972 Senate campaign, but once in office, he opposed it and called it “an asinine concept.”
The Delaware Democrat refused to apologize on Thursday for his stance on the issue but clarified he only opposed federal efforts to force the method, arguably making his situation worse.
Since clashing with Biden on Thursday, the California senator has received a number of online attacks questioning her race, a conspiracy campaign similar to the “birtherism” attacks former President Barack Obama faced when running for office. Harris is of Indian and Jamaican heritage, and she was the first generation of her family to be born in the United States.
On Sunday, Harris told reporters that people must “speak the truth about the history of our country” even if it’s uncomfortable, according to Bloomberg.
She added that busing is “one small piece” of the broader effort to desegregate schools, and stressed that the federal government plays a vital role in integrating schools.
“The federal government has historically and always had a role to play in ensuring equality in America,” she said. “And where states fail to do their duty to ensure equality of all people and in particular, where states create or pass legislation that created inequality, there’s no question that the federal government has a role and a responsibility to step up.”