BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — California Senator Kamala Harris may be getting a boost after Thursday night’s debate where she confronted front-runner Joe Biden on race relations.
Senator Harris bore down on former Vice President Joe Biden about his unwillingness to support desegregation of schools via a federal busing decree during Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
“You also worked with them to oppose busing,” Harris said. “And 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.”
The Berkeley Unified School District voluntarily desegregated its elementary schools with busing in 1968. Harris began school in 1969, according to school officials.
“Kids from the flats who tended to be African American were bused up to the white neighborhoods in the hills and vice versa,” said Ty Alper, a Berkeley School Board member.
“We are very proud of the fact that we were the first district to voluntarily integrate its schools,” Alper said. “It was hard. I wasn’t born yet, but it was not uncontroversial. There were huge town hall meetings, there were threats to recall the school board members, but the school board took a stand.”
The school left it’s mark on Harris and she on the school. Students have included her image in a mural honoring influential women.
Berkeley High School had always been integrated because there’s only one high school in the East Bay city that all the students attended.