The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Ironing board for the people: a one-woman campaign for Kamala

From left to right, Deanne Jurkovich, Paul Rohrer, Joyce Bezazian, and Sophia Chavez, tabling, for now, Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris.

I was watching Univision Spanish news one evening in 2013 and saw California Attorney General Kamala Harris representing an undocumented law school graduate. His name is Sergio Garcia, and he was trying to obtain his license to practice law. Months after the case went to the California Supreme Court, I found myself captivated by a news report announcing the ruling in favor of Garcia’s admittance to the California Bar Exam. 

Garcia looked so happy that he was able to win because of Harris and others helping him. You don’t find many politicians representing a Mexican, marginalized member of American society. That’s when I became convinced that Harris is a good person. 

When I heard that Harris was running for president, I remembered Garcia’s case and thought about the many other undocumented immigrants who cannot vote and believed she would help restructure immigration policies by signing into law a clearer path to citizenship. I felt I had to get involved and attended a grassroots organizing campaign for Harris in 2018.

I went downtown for the volunteer orientation in the early stages of Harris’ campaign development and ran into a crowd of people who were heterogeneous in every sense of the word. I met a fellow alumnus from the University of California, Berkeley and his wife who is of Asian descent. One of Harris’ sorority sisters was there—a Black woman in her pink Alpha Kappa Alpha shirt with long braids down to her waist. I saw Latinos like me, as well. People of all backgrounds and from all over California had shown up, willing to volunteer for Harris’ campaign. 

At the orientation, California Senator Richard Pan and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg gave pep talks to motivate the volunteers to get out the vote for Harris, whose spirit and enthusiasm was present in all of us. In some small way, I wanted to make a contribution to the much larger plan. If volunteers like me—a low-income, educated Latina with a disability —could show that Harris had backing, it would make her more visible to Sacramento voters.

Harris, a Black, Asian and Muslim woman of color running for president, definitely had my vote. I believed in her because she has such eloquent political discourse. She spoke passionately about our shared belief that people who are not represented equally should have a voice without forgetting about the middle class. I felt a need for not just any woman to serve as president, but someone with my same political values and ideologies. I believed that if a woman of color got elected based upon her merits, it would open the door for more women to occupy similar positions of political office.

When I went out to campaign for Harris, I did so remembering a story I’d heard about her at one of our volunteer Zoom meetings. Early in her career when Harris ran for office, she took  political platform leaflets, an ironing board to place them on and stood in front of a library as people walked by. Some people tried to ignore the woman behind the ironing board, but a lot of them couldn’t help but stop and speak to Harris. 

I didn’t get an ironing board;I used tables and set up a campaign site at a Sacramento farmers market. On the first day, I knew that I had to arrive as the sun was rising in order to get one of the first spots, and I had to illegally park to unload everything swiftly. I’d recruited volunteers to help me, and for six weeks, they took turns setting up tables with photos of Harris decorated in her campaign colors of yellow, red and purple. 

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Among the volunteers I met were an Armenian woman and her wife, a Black retired judge and a white business woman. Some of Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters wearing ear-to-ear smiles visited the table where we distributed leaflets and encouraged people to support Harris as a presidential nominee. I also ran into a volunteer I worked with as office manager in 2000 for the Northeast Democratic Headquarters in Citrus Heights.

While I was at that table, a man told me that Harris was not a viable candidate and wouldn’t make it past the primaries. I told him I believed in her because of her professional disposition and excellent skills as a public speaker. Her ideals about race relations, jobs, the economy, health care, immigration, education and women’s equality resonated with everything I believe in. 

For the past four years, I have worried about the increasing hostility between Americans, as well as our country’s regression into racist attitudes I had hoped were long gone. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need leaders who listen to the science about the virus. I believed that Harris was the answer not only to my prayers but those of many others. 

When Harris suspended her bid from the presidential race Dec. 3, 2019, I was heartbroken. I took to Facebook to encourage those who also supported Harris. She might have dropped out, but I (and others) pointed out that Biden could still choose her as his running mate. Thus began my crusade for a Biden/Harris ticket. When Biden announced Harris as his running mate Aug. 11, it not only made me happy but also made me feel that anything is possible. 

Kamala Harris has helped restore my faith in myself because of her gracious spirit. My father’s recent death from Alzheimer’s complications and my emotional health left my personal needs unattended. So, Instead of campaigning, I decided to return to school to study journalism. I want to write about people in the political arena like Harris, who have given women a newfound perception of what the future of ourselves—those of our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, nieces and girlfriends—can be. We can envision our ensuing years full of hope as we continue to strive for equality with strength and perseverance. Harris’s role as vice president will open more doors to nontraditional jobs for women as well as closing the gender gap in the White House and throughout the United States of America. 

Time froze on Nov. 7 when CNN called the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I cried many happy tears for our woman vice president-elect and for the hope of our nation under a new president; one who promises to be a president for all people. Harris may have lost this chance to become president, but she will serve in the country’s second highest office. 

Biden has said that he will be an “American president.” And as Harris pledged some time ago, she will be “Kamala for the people.” I can’t wait to see what they will do for all of us.

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