Vice-president elect Kamala Harris told Elle magazine in an October interview that she has been fighting for civil rights since she was in a stroller. On Monday, evidence emerged on Twitter that this story was eerily similar to one that Martin Luther King Jr. told Playboy Magazine in 1965.
The feature in Elle began, “Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young. She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle. At some point, she fell from the stroller (few safety regulations existed for children’s equipment back then), and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset. ‘My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing’ Harris says, ‘and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’”
The interview resurfaced on Twitter this week. Contributing editor Andray Domise pointed out that Harris’ story very closely resembled a story MLK told Playboy over 50 years ago.
During an interview with Alex Haley, MLK answered a question about the difficulties of being the leader of the Civil Rights movement.
In his answer, explained that he got his inspiration from a little girl, saying, “I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. “What do you want?” the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, “Fee-dom.” She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.”
This is not the first time Kamala Harris has tried to use stories about her involvement in Civil Rights movements for political gain. She even used it against her running mate, Joe Biden, during the Democratic primary. In June 2019, Harris criticized Biden for his opposition to forced integration of public schools through busing decades ago.
Harris also said, “It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. 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,” referencing Biden’s willingness to work with segregationist and former Democratic Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.
“That little girl was me,” Harris said.