Kamala Harris Speaks At Essence Fest


Announcing $100 Billion Minority Homeownership Plan to Address Racial Wealth Gap

 

Today, at the 25th Annual ESSENCE Fest, Senator Kamala Harris announced her $100 billion plan to invest in minority homeownership to address the racial wealth gap. The plan would affect four million homebuyers who rent or live in historically red-lined communities, amend the credit reporting process, and hold lenders accountable for discriminatory practices. 

 

The plan is a part of Harris’ agenda which includes previously laid out plans to offer relief for renters paying more than 30% of their income on rent; provide up to $500 a month for working families making less than $100,000 through a new middle class tax credit; combat the Black maternal mortality crisis; close the gender pay gap for women, which is 61 cents on the dollar for Black women; take executive actions to reduce the carnage of gun violence in communities across America; and, make new investments to raise teacher pay and expand opportunities for Black teachers.

 

Read more about the plan here.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Harris’ speech:

 

So we must right that wrong and after generations of discrimination give Black families a real shot at homeownership -- historically one of the most powerful drivers of wealth in our country.”

 

So I will remove unfair barriers Black Americans face when they go to qualify for a home loan. I will strengthen anti-discrimination lending laws and implement stricter enforcement. And I’ll invest—I’ll invest through the federal government— $100 billion to put homeownership within the reach for those who live in redlined communities and it would help up to 4 million families with down payments and closing costs.”

 

Black Americans were excluded in our country for years and generations from participating in the first industrial revolution and the wealth that that generated. Now with the technological revolution, we must ensure that everyone can participate in the wealth it creates.”

 

And to do that I will invest in our HBCUs—I am a proud graduate of Howard University!—I will invest in our HBCUs-- the resources they need to develop world class STEM programming to ensure that our students have a real opportunity to shape the technology revolution. And here’s the thing, those of us who are proud HBCUs know. HBCUs graduate nearly 1 in 4 students who earn science and engineering degrees. They are our future.”

 

And in the coming weeks I’ll announce new investments to support Black entrepreneurs and business owners by increasing access to capital and credit.”

 

Full rush transcript of Senator Harris’ remarks:

 

Good morning! My heart is full. Good morning! Well let me first start by congratulating Essence on this 25th anniversary of the Essence Festival. Congratulations! And it is 25 years strong, and of course it is so good to be back in New Orleans.

 

So I’ve got a limited amount of time but I wanted to share with you a couple of things about my background and some ideas and plans that I have. But I do want to start by thanking everybody here because this is a room full of leaders and I cannot thank you enough for everything you do. Everything.

 

So about my background.

 

I am a daughter of the civil rights movement. I grew up in a family and in a community of adults who spent full time marching and shouting about this thing called justice.

 

My sister Maya and I, we were raised by a mother who was all of 5 feet tall but if you met her you would have thought she was 7 feet tall.

 

And our mother, she taught us the importance of a good education.

 

She taught us the good old-fashioned value of hard work.

 

She taught us don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are.

 

And she taught us not only to dream but to do.

 

And she taught us to believe in our power to right what is wrong.

 

And she was the kind of parent who if you came home complaining about something, our mother would look at you, maybe with one hand on her hip, and with a very straight face, she would say “Well what are you gonna do about it?”

 

So I decided to run for President of the United States.

 

And look, we know there is a lot that is wrong with the current occupant of the White House. He says he wants to “Make America Great Again.” Well what does “again” mean?

 

Back before the Civil Rights Act?

Back before the Voting Rights Act?

Back before Roe v Wade?

Back before the Fair Housing Act?

Well Essence, we’re not going back.

 

In fact, it is time to turn the page. And it is time to write the next chapter of these United States.

 

And I’d ask that we took a look at—and I urge everyone to read—the Black Census Project headed by Alicia Garza and let that be our guide. It’s the largest survey of Black people in America since Reconstruction.

 

And it demands action recognizing that the many facets of Black life must be addressed. And in my opinion, it is a guide to right what is wrong in America.

 

So you know, how sometimes people will say—and they say it certainly to me often because I was of course the first black woman to be elected DA of San Francisco, I was the first black person to be elected Attorney General of California, only the second black woman to be elected to the United States Senate, in the history of our country, and so you know, people will often come up to me and they will say Kamala, talk to us a little bit about Black people’s issues. And I look at them, and I say, you know what?

 

I am so glad you want to talk about—the economy.

 

I am so glad you wanna talk about health care.

 

I am so glad you wanna talk about the racial wealth gap.

 

And let’s talk about national security while we’re at it.

 

And let’s talk about the dreams people have for our children.

 

So, let’s talk a little bit about all of that.

 

Let’s start with economic security.

 

The Black Census shows us that in the last year, nearly half of Black families said they did not have enough money to pay a monthly bill.

 

It found that a third of Black families cut back on food because they could not afford it.

 

And for every dollar white men earn, Black women in America earn 61 cents.

 

So we must right what is wrong with the economy and pass my LIFT Act which will give every family making under $100,000 a year a tax credit that they can collect at up to $500 each month. Economists have described it as the most significant middle-class tax cut we’ve had in generations.

 

We must right what is wrong and take action on equal pay with my plan that puts the burden on corporations, not working women, to prove that they’ve been paid equally for equal work.

 

We must right what is wrong and close the teacher pay gap to give millions of teachers -- the vast majority of whom are women -- a raise.

 

And I say to them, so you want to talk about Black issues?

 

Let’s talk about health care also.

 

Nearly one third of folks in the Black census said they put off seeing a doctor because they could not afford it.

 

We know that Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die in connection to childbirth.

 

And we know that Black communities across this country are dealing with water that is not safe to drink.

 

We must right what is wrong with public health policy and pass Medicare for All in this country.

 

And we must right what is wrong and pass my maternal mortality bill so that Black women are taken seriously when they walk in that doctor’s office, in that clinic, or in that hospital.

 

We must right what is wrong and finally treat access to clean drinking water like what it should be. A fundamental right.

 

And ladies, if we’re going to right what is wrong let’s deal with the racial wealth gap in our country. Which is why today, here, at the Essence Festival, I am releasing a new plan to start closing the wealth gap.

 

And here’s how it works. So a typical Black family has just $10 of wealth for every $100 held by a white family.


 

So we must right that wrong and and after generations of discrimination give Black families a real shot at homeownership -- historically one of the most powerful drivers of wealth in our country.

 

So I will remove unfair barriers Black Americans face when they go to qualify for a home loan.

 

I will strengthen anti-discrimination lending laws and implement stricter enforcement.

 

And I’ll invest—I’ll invest through the federal government— $100 billion to put homeownership within the reach for those who live in redlined communities and it would help up to 4 million families with down payments and closing costs.

 

And by taking these steps we can shrink the wealth gap between Black and White households by at least one third.

 

But we cannot bridge the racial wealth gap just by addressing historical inequities . . . although we must do that . . . we also have to write the next chapter.

 

Black Americans were excluded in our country for years and generations from participating in the first industrial revolution and the wealth that that generated. Now with the technological revolution, we must ensure that everyone can participate in the wealth it creates.

 

And to do that I will invest in our HBCUs—I am a proud graduate of Howard University!—I will invest in our HBCUs-- the resources they need to develop world class STEM programming to ensure that our students have a real opportunity to shape the technology revolution. And here’s the thing, those of us who are proud HBCUs know.

 

HBCUs graduate nearly 1 in 4 students who earn science and engineering degrees. They are our future.

 

And in the coming weeks I’ll announce new investments to support Black entrepreneurs and business owners by increasing access to capital and credit.

 

So in closing, by taking these challenges on, we can close that gap -- and that not only lifts up Black America, it lifts up all of America.

 

So Essence, join me—as we right what is wrong and write the next chapter of history in our country.

 

Because Black women know.

 

We know America’s story has always been written by those who see what can be unburdened by what has been.

 

And just think -- less than 60 years ago, Ruby Bridges needed federal marshals to escort her to school in New Orleans and today, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is the first woman and the first black woman to lead this city.

 

The fight of Black women has always been fueled and grounded in faith and in the belief in what is possible.

 

We have always built the future that we can see and believe in….and fight for.

 

It’s why Sojourner spoke….

It’s why Mae flew….

It’s why Rosa and Claudette sat….

It’s why Maya wrote….

It’s why Fannie organized….

It’s why Shirley ran….

And it’s why I stand here as a candidate for President of the United States.

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Undated file photo provided by Joseph C. Abraham of Unrelenting Media, Inc..

 

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The views and opinions expressed in this ‘Opinion-Editorial’ are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Urban Directory, LLC.

 

 

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