Some partisan sites are claiming that Kamala Harris was lying when she spoke dramatically about being in the second class “to integrate her public schools.” However, she was part of the second class to integrate elementary schools in Berkeley, and she did participate in the busing program, according to the Berkeley school district and multiple news accounts.
Some sites blasted the so-called news around the Internet, alleging Harris was lying. “Kamala Harris Lied when she said she was in Second Integrated Class in Berkeley — But Yearbook Pictures Shows Otherwise!” read one such post. “Kamala Harris was born in 1964,” wrote Gateway Pundit. “She claims she was only the second class to integrate at the Berkeley public schools. Kamala lied. Actually the classrooms in Berkeley were already integrated in 1963 — before she was born.”
However, Berkeley public schools’ spokesman has now verified that, although the high school was integrated already, the elementary schools integrated the year before Harris enrolled. “…She was taking part in one of the nation’s earliest efforts to use busing to integrate public school,” The Mercury News reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
Kamala Harris Brought Up Her Personal Childhood Story in a Challenge to Joe Biden
Kamala Harris’s personal childhood story was considered by many to be the defining moment in the first Democratic debate.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, directing her comments toward Biden. “…But I also believe and it’s personal and …it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country… you also worked with them to oppose busing…and, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day and that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject it can not be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly.”
Is it true?
According to the Associated Press, people claiming that Harris was lying are sharing Berkeley High School yearbook photos as supposed evidence to make their point. However, that is misleading. “Harris…wasn’t talking about Berkeley High School,” AP noted.
District spokesman Charles Burress told the AP that Harris started in the Berkeley School system in 1969 when she was 5, which was one year after busing began in that district. “The school board didn’t agree to desegregate all 14 elementary schools until the beginning of the 1968 school year,” Associated Press reported, per Burress. The next year, Harris’s campaign says she started school at Thousand Oaks Elementary, which Burress told AP the school district has “accepted as fact.” (Heavy has also reached out to Berkeley schools for comment.)
The San Francisco Chronicle obtained a similar story from Natasha Beery, director of community relations for the Berkeley Unified School District. “Beery confirmed Friday that Harris was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley’s classrooms when she began school in 1969. The program began the year before,” the Chronicle reported. Beery also confirmed to the Chronicle that Berkeley High School integrated in 1964 but the city’s elementary schools didn’t integrate until 1968. The headline on the Chronicle story states “Kamala Harris rode the buses that integrated Berkeley schools.”
Berkeley Unified School District “started voluntarily busing its elementary students on a widespread level in 1968, under the direction of a progressive superintendent, Neil Sullivan,” according to The Mercury News. The newspaper reported that Harris was “a member of the second class to go into the program,” saying she “took the bus every day from her mother’s yellow duplex” into a “wealthier and whiter” area.
According to the Chronicle, Harris, the daughter of divorced immigrant parents from India and Jamaica, graduated from high school in Canada because she moved there at age 12 with her mother, who had gotten a research job.
“The thought of moving away from sunny California in February, in the middle of the school year, to a French-speaking foreign city covered in twelve feet of snow was distressing, to say the least,” she wrote in her book. She would stay with her father in the summers in California, according to Mercury News.