(Atlanta, Ga) Walking out into a room full of applause, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, took the stage at Spelman College to give its first homecoming lecture. She titled the message, "Undaunted by the Fight,” an ode to the college’s official hymn.
“Speaking truth can often make people quite uncomfortable,” Harris told the audience of students, faculty, and alum.
Friday, Harris was officially named as one of the latest Democrats to be sent a suspicious package in the mail. It was intercepted and an investigation began at a Sacramento Post Office.
Harris lightly alluded to the threats in her speech.
“It’s a moment where there are powerful forces, right now, that are trying to sow hate and division among us,” Harris said. “There are a lot of people in our country right now who are extremely distrustful, understandably, of our government, its institutions and its leaders,” she went on.
Harris, the first Black woman to be elected District Attorney in California and only the second Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, told the crowd America is now in a moment similar to the Civil Rights movement when her own parents were in college.
“Let's fight knowing this truth that we all have so much more in common than what separates us. Let's speak that truth in the face of those that are trying to sow hate and division among us,” Harris told the audience in Sisters Chapel on the campus.
While on stage following the speech, Harris did address the threats to CNN. “I’m thankful to law enforcement and the Postal Service folks for being so professional and diligent and thankfully, nobody was hurt,” Harris said.
Students and alumna of the college said it was apparent that Harris was referring to the attacks; she didn’t need to say much more.
“That's an example of when they go low, we go high. She kept it high,” said Spelman Alumna Andrea Morgan, a graduate of the class of 1996. “She kept above the kind of noise that we kind of hear, but she didn't have to name anything specifically. We all knew what she was talking about,” Morgan went on.
Many women said the speech inspired them to continue to break through barriers and to be assured in their positions in society and professional life.
“I think that her speech was very empowering and very connecting, especially for the time that we are in now,” said Spelman Senior, Deja Edwards.
A supporter of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Spelman graduate, Sen. Harris spoke out against candidate Brian Kemp calling out the purging of minority voters from the rolls.
“Let’s speak truth when a candidate for governor who also happens to be responsible for overseeing Georgia’s elections is trying to purge 53,000 Black voters from the voter rolls. It’s called voter suppression. Let’s speak truth and vote him out of office,” Harris said to the crowd. Some cheered holding Abrams campaign signs.
Harris ended the speech reminding the mostly female crowd that their issues and their voices matter.
“When you break things, it hurts,” Harris lectured. “Sometimes you get cut and it can be painful. So I say this to you not to scare you, I say this to prepare you. Because you can do it and you will do it, and you will have all of us there to support you in doing it. But, it will not be without great effort and often with great opposition, and it can be done,” she concluded repeating the theme “undaunted.”
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