During last week’s debate, we watched all the Democratic candidates for President discuss their hopes and plans for our country. We watched all the candidates take on the issues that everyday people are facing. And, we watched as one candidate in particular had the courage to ask the tough questions and demonstrate the strength to handle difficult situations. We watched Kamala Harris remind us of how policy directly affects people.
As a mother and a teacher, Senator Harris’ powerful recount of being part of the second class to be integrated in Berkeley was a defining moment for me. In that moment, I knew exactly what she was talking about–she was talking about access to opportunity that would otherwise change the trajectory of her life. That resonated with me. That was me.
While my journey to Congress from the classroom is not the same as Senator Harris, mine could not have happened without others holding the doors of access open for me. With all of the obstacles I faced in my life, I had to rely on a government that worked—and I am proof that good government works. Like Kamala, I am proof that access to opportunity makes a life changing difference for Americans.
Court-ordered desegregation was never just about making classrooms diverse – it was about access to resources for millions of children around the country who deserved a fair shot at opportunity. This is so much bigger than that one incident. The doors that opened for Kamala to board that school bus each morning were a symbol of the doors that she would be able to open later: becoming the first Black woman District Attorney in California, the first Black woman California Attorney General, and the second Black woman elected to the United States Senate. We should be compelled to hold the same doors open for others.
Informed by her upbringing, Kamala has presented a policy agenda focused on increasing access for ALL Americans, lifting families up to ensure no child has to be told that something is not possible.
When Kamala proposes the biggest federal investment to give teachers a raise, she understands that the teachers who are investing in our children nearly every day should be focused on just that — not devoting their time and energy to a second job. Her RENT Relief act to give millions of families a tax credit for rent is critical so no family has to choose between paying the rent or putting food on the table. Even her campaign is focused on including everyone in the political process. Weeks ago she launched an HBCU constituency program to organize on those campuses. She is also offering paid fellowships to lower the barrier of entry into politics and allow for everyone interested to gain the access, gain the skills and gain the incentive to take political action now and in the future.
What is missing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a leader and a fighter–a leader to work in the best interest of the American public and a fighter for the rights of all those in pursuit of the American dream. What is missing is a President grounded in truth – even when it is not self-serving.
Kamala Harris is the perfect antidote to our current President’s false narratives. With her intellect, strength and empathy at the helm, we can work to be better together. Senator Harris has laid out a powerful and bold vision for this country that is inclusive of everyone’s lived experience and grounded in the belief that success should not be defined by race, gender, socioeconomic status or zip code.
Kamala knows what it takes to move us forward as a country, and I am proud to endorse her for President of the United States.
Jahana Hayes represents Connecticut’s 5th District in the United States House of Representatives. She was the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and the first black woman elected to Congress from CT.