Posts tagged with "Kamala Harris"

Sen. Harris HBCU Interview

BET DIGITAL PRESENTS “BLACK AMERICA VOTES: HBCU STUDENTS INTERVIEW SEN. KAMALA HARRIS” PREMIERES ON NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Sen. Harris Discusses Education, Employment and Social Justice with HBCU Student Leaders from Spelman College, North Carolina A&T University, Hampton University, Tuskegee University and Howard University

Hosted by Emmy-nominated actor, producer, and media personality Terrence J

Watch, post and share the exclusive BET Digital News Special:
https://www.bet.com/video/news/politics/2020/kamala-harris-interview-hbcu-students-2020-election-video.html

On the heels of the first-ever National Black Voter Day launched by BET’s nonpartisan #ReclaimYourVote campaign, BET Digital will stream an exclusive conversation with Senator Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic Vice Presidential nominee with students and youth activists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Hosted by Emmy-nominated actor, producer, and media personality Terrence J, the virtual dialog “Black America Votes: HBCU Students Interview Sen. Kamala Harris” will feature political discourse between Sen. Harris and a cohort of student leaders including a student body president, editor-in-chief of a student newspaper, and a president of young Democrats; representing the often unheard millennial voice for many first-time voters in the most significant election in a generation. BET will stream the entire conversation on National Voter Registration Day, Tuesday, September 22, across BET’s digital platforms: BET.com, BET’s Facebook pages including BET, BET News and BET Her. Clips from the special will also be shared to BET’s Twitter accounts.

The news special will address issues that are front and center on these students’ respective campuses. The panelists will consists of various HBCU students across critical states that are vital to the November election, including Sen. Harris’s alma mater Howard University (Washington, DC), Spelman College (Atlanta, GA), North Carolina A&T University (Greensboro, NC), Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia), and Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama).

For more information, go to www.bet.com and join the conversation on social media by logging on to BET social media platforms and using the hashtags: #ReclaimYourVote #BETVote and by following us @BET, @BETVote, and @BETNews.

ABOUT BET

BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news, and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa, and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Win With Black Women

Back in 2016, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald Trump asked black voters, “What do you have to lose?”

He asked in reference to generations of oppression, violence and inequality, saying, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed.”

The obvious implication is that things couldn’t possibly get worse for black voters, and Trump thought he had a chance to be the solution to the problem.

Well, in Sept. 2020, it seems that President Trump has his answer, and it comes in the form of a letter penned by Win With Black Women and co-signed by over 1,000 black female leaders.

The letter opens with a direct response to the question posed by Trump.

“Our answer, evidenced by increasingly poor economic outcomes, high racial tensions and hate incidents, the coronavirus, and an overall lack of dignity and respect in the White House, is a lot. And for Black women in particular, it’s too much,” the letter said.

It went on to discuss “sycophantic rhetoric” at the RNC that would lead watchers to believe that black life in America is in a healthier place now than it was prior to Trump’s election. Furthermore, the letter said that rhetoric insisted that anyone challenging that notion was brainwashed.

To refute the points set forth at the RNC, the letter cited the State of Black America, saying black households bring in 41% less than white households, and 60% of the black population lives below the poverty line. The letter also said that black unemployment is double the percentage of white unemployment.

The letter covered the cause of the recent protests throughout the country, saying, “Our lives are in constant threat under your Administration. If you are Black in America, you are three times more likely to be shot by the police,” going on to name Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as evidence that justice has gone unserved.

It also mentioned that black people are dying disproportionally from COVID-19 while black women, specifically, “lag behind in life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality.”

Win With Black Women finished by saying that they will fight against attacks on Kamala Harris and proposed a call to action.

“We call on voters, no matter their background, to join us in setting the record straight and to reject your distracting antics, lies and attacks. We call on you and the GOP to focus on the crises afflicting the American people and not to insult every American with petty diversions, outright lies, and by sweeping problems under the rug.  We call on voters to stand in solidarity with Black women and reject your derogatory sexist, racist rhetoric aimed at undermining our credibility, our character, and our achievements,” the letter said.

Before closing the letter, Win With Black Women said they “vow to continue to uplift the issues most important to our families and our communities, keep our eyes and ears open, and to work to restore what is true, just, and decent to this election and to this monumental time in history.”

Win With Black Women has published the letter on Change.org, asking signees of the petition to stand with them in unity. To sign the letter and to see a complete list of co-signing leaders, you can click right here.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Amtrak for 360 MAGAZINE.

360 Magazine Marches on Washington

By Cassandra Yany × Armon Hayes, Vaughn Lowery

Recently, our team journeyed to Washington, D.C. for the National Action Network’s Commitment March. The August 28 march marked 57 years since the March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have A Dream” speech. According to the National Action Network’s website, the goal of the march was to advocate for comprehensive police accountability reform, promote participation in the Census and motivate voters to cast their ballots in the upcoming Presidential election.

The National Action Network was founded by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991. With nearly 100 chapters nationwide, the civil rights organization works in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. to achieve “one standard of justice, decency, and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression or sexuality.”

The trip from New York to Washington, D.C. was made easy by taking Amtrak’s Acela service. Despite the higher price point, the Acela is newer and less crowded than regional trains. The express train eliminated the burden of tolls and stopped in only a few cities, arriving in D.C. after about three and a half hours. It can be stressful to travel right now, so it was a relief to see how clean the train was. The quiet car, basic free wifi and outlets on board provided the perfect environment to research and write articles on our tablets. We utilized our extra time to discuss with one another and prepare for our coverage of the march and our days in D.C.

The café offered coffee and various snack options, and the sliding glass doors made it easy for us to walk through the cars. The reclining seats were comfortable and allowed us to rest before our trip. There were also sections of four seats for those traveling in a larger group. Each passenger could bring two personal items weighing up to 25 pounds, and two carry-on bags weighing up to 50 pounds at no additional cost. Amtrak is currently offering reduced fares for two to six tickets purchased together where riders can save eight to 45 percent.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Amtrak story for 360 MAGAZINE

Luckily, we were able to call Amtrak in advance to ensure we could carry on our folding bicycles. With limited parking available in the city, electric bikes served as a great mode of transportation for many protesters. E-bikes such as the DYU Smart Bike and a custom scooter from Good Vibe Gliders were an affordable alternative to renting a car, and made covering and participating in the march much easier.

The Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks started early Friday morning. Participants marched through the National Mall, many carrying signs remembering those whose lives have been lost in acts of police violence. Others displayed “Black Lives Matter” on flags, shirts and masks.

Some participants created street art during the event, voicing their support through their work. At one point, a number of demonstrators stood together in the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument. Marchers reached the section of 16 Street NW that has become known as “Black Lives Matter Plaza” around 3:30 PM before dispersing for the day.

Organizers of the march upheld COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. The National Action Network placed multiple signs throughout the National Mall encouraging social distancing, and took marchers’ temperatures as they entered the area. Face masks were distributed to people who did not have one, and visitors from high-risk areas were urged to join virtually from their homes. There was also a testing booth on site, as reported by WUSA 9.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Amtrak story for 360 MAGAZINE

The march was co-convened by Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. Among the thousands of attendees who gathered on the National Mall were the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Jacob Blake. Many members of these families gave speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, along with lawmakers from across the country. These congressmen and women pushed for legislation that would address cases of racial injustice.

Though she was not present, Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris shared her message to marchers via Twitter. In her speech, which was played at the event, she said, “…if we work together, to challenge every instinct our nation has to return to the status quo, and combine the wisdom of long time warriors for justice, with the creative energy of the young leaders today, we have an opportunity to make history, right here and right now.”

Yolanda Renee King took the stage to address the crowd, standing where her grandfather had led March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In a video posted by CNN she said, “We stand and march for love and we will fulfill my grandfather’s dream.” She then led a chant of “Show me what democracy looks like; This is what democracy looks like!”

Friday was also the 65th anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder. The 14-year-old was lynched and thrown off a bridge while visiting family in Mississippi. He was abducted after “allegedly whistling at a white woman,” according to ABC 7 Chicago, and his body was found mutilated in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s family never received justice, as the two men responsible for his death were both acquitted. Till’s murder helped to spark the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Civil rights leader and former congressman John Lewis wrote that “Emmett Till was [his] George Floyd” in a New York Times essay that was published on the day of Lewis’ funeral.

The trip provided a meaningful experience to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as time to see local relatives. 360 President Vaughn Lowery visited his uncle Leroy Lowery, the former executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, who raised over $120 million for the Stone of Hope.

Leroy Lowery is the son of the late Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a civil rights leader who helped Martin Luther King, Jr. establish the Southern Christina Leadership Conference, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Leroy Lowery attended the march with his father in 1963 and stated on Friday, “to see that we have to march [again] 57 years later is deflating.”

Kaelen Felix illustrates Amtrak story for 360 MAGAZINE

Jacob Blake Shot by Wisconsin Police

In the most recent incident to incite protests against injustices across the nation this summer, a Black man has been shot in Wisconsin. Jacob Blake, witnesses said, was attempting to break up an argument between two women. Following this, he walked back towards his silver SUV this past Sunday, August 23rd while being trailed by a police officer involved in the confrontation. As three of his children watched from their vehicle, the police officer proceeded to fire seven times at Blake’s back and close range. One can only imagine the trauma for his sons. As of today, Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition, but is expected to survive.

The incident, caught on video, has gone similarly viral to other violent misconducts by the police over the course of spring and summer 2020. The officers involved in Blake’s shooting have been placed on administrative leave and have shocked the small city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests across the city have motivated Governor Evers to call in the National Guard, though he attempted to assure constituents it was not in an effort to mimic clashes between protesters and servicemen in places like Seattle, Minneapolis, or New York. Minor confrontations have occurred over the past two days despite this.

Following George Floyd’s murder this past May, protests against the police and in favor of the movement Black Lives Matter have exploded across the country. Blake’s shooting has added fuel to the fire, inspiring renewed protests and calls to action all across the nation. The incident in Kenosha has furthered the call for cities to cut funding to police departments, restructure their legal practices, amongst other changes.

Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers tweeted in support of Jacob Blake and in condemnation of the actions of police officers involved: “I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and country for far too long. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.” The Governor also signed an executive order into Wisconsin’s state legislature for a special session to pass legislation and police reforms for August 31st. The reforms are expected to be fought by the state’s Republican leadership.

Calls from the countries Democratic leadership have come again for immediate reform, including the voice of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as he “wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.” President Trump has not commented directly on the shooting, but Vice President Pence made a statement yesterday emphasizing the administration’s loyalty to their men and women in blue.

The situation involving the shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin continues to develop.

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Joe Biden × Kamala Harris

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has declared California Senator Kamala Harris his Vice President running mate. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris Harris shows Biden doubling down on his long history of excessive law enforcement and support for the war on drugs. 

In a year of national uprising against police violence, Kamala Harris who spent 25 years in law enforcement is an ironic selection. Her campaign for president ended quickly as she dropped out of the race two months before the Iowa Caucus and three days before the filing deadline to be on the ballot in her home state of California, where she was behind in the polls. Part of her decline was caused by voter dismay at her reversal on Medicare For All, when she flip-flopped to a policy that subsidized private health insurance and misleadingly continued to call it Medicare for All.

While Joe Biden was the principal legislative architect of the drug war and mass incarceration from his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris’s record as a prosecutor and Attorney General was as a foot soldier in the drug war and mass incarceration. As the San Francisco District Attorney drug-related prosecutions increased from 56 percent in 2003 to 74 percent in 2006. In 2019, she admitted smoking marijuana in college but while Attorney General of California from 2011-2017, Harris sent at least 1,560 people to prison over marijuana-related offenses. In 2014, a week after the New York Times called for legal marijuana, Harris laughed when asked if she supported it. Now, she supports ending federal laws against marijuana, a position not held by Biden.

While Biden sponsored mandatory sentencing, Harris defended one of the worst mandatory sentencing laws in the US, California’s ‘three strikes law’ that also applied to “minor” felonies. She campaigned against a voter initiative that would have reformed this to require serious or violent felonies for life sentences. Harris did not take a position on two ballot initiatives in 2012 and 2014 that would have reduced punishment for low-level crimes and given judges more flexibility at sentencing. Both initiatives passed without her support.

After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, police accountability was on the agenda in the California legislature. Harris refused to take a position on racial profiling by police. As Attorney General she refused to investigate highly questionable police shootings in Los Angeles 2014 and in San Francisco in 2015.

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Kaelen Felix illustrates a political article for 360 MAGAZINE

Black Male Leaders x Biden

USA Today reported Monday that Black male leaders penned an open letter to presidential candidate Joe Biden to say that he will lose the election if he does not select a Black woman as his running mate.

According to USA Today, the letter came from more than 100 activists, leaders, preachers and celebrities. Some candidates on an unofficial shortlist of possible VPs include Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Karen Bass and Susan Rice, the former Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor during Barack Obama‘s presidency.

The letter also expressed concern that Black women were being unfairly criticized as potential running mates for Biden. USA Today mentions a POLITICO report that said Sen. Chris Dodd criticized Sen. Harris for comments on Biden’s voting record regarding civil rights. The article also mentions a CNBC report saying Biden allies found Harris to be too focused on becoming president herself to hold the vice presidential office.

Signees of the letter included Sean “Diddy” Combs, Charlamagne Tha God and civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represented George Floyd’s family.

“We don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils, and we don’t want to vote for the devil we know versus the devil we don’t because we are tired of voting for devils,” the letter said.

The New York Times reported Monday that Biden’s VP selection committee has been disbanded and that the only thing left was a decision from Biden, also calling the pick “imminent.”

The New York Times also said Biden’s campaign has a virtual event planned to introduce the vice presidential candidate, and the event is sponsored by Women for Biden.

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End of Federal Moratorium

By Eamonn Burke

The CARES act instated in March that protected renters across the country from evictions ended on Friday. The 12.3 million households under federally backed mortgages can now be given 30-day notices and evicted in August. The end of this protection, as well as the end of additional unemployment payment will make it hard for many renters to keep their homes.

“We are looking at an eviction cliff,” said National Housing Conference President David Dworkin. “Once we fall over it, it will be hard to climb back.”

The “cliff” that Dworkin references will bring a spike of homelessness across the country. States like Arizona and Tennessee have shown data of many more pending evictions than normal. It’s not only the numbers that tell the story, however:

“We still anecdotally have seen some people become newly homeless due to informal evictions” says Jacquelyn Simone, a policy analyst in New York’s Coalition for the Homeless.

Although the moratorium period has officially ended, the fight to extend it has not. Some states such as New York, Washington, and Connecticut, have enacted their own ban on evictions until the end of August. The fight continues at the Federal level as well. The House passed a $100 billion assistance fund, while Senator Kamala Harris (D) of California released a plan for a year long ban on evictions and leniency on rent. The Senate, on the other hand, seems to be unwilling to include these ideas in their coronavirus legislation. Many Republicans feel that the moratorium has extended long enough.

“We disagree . . . to a forever, ongoing moratorium” said Maryland Multi-Housing Association director Adam Skolnik, calling it “fundamentally unfair” to the renters who are also struggling. It remains to be seen whether the parties can come to an agreement on how to deal with the complex issue.

KAMALA HARRIS × ESSENCE

Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) speaks to ESSENCE.com during Black Maternal Health Week (April 11 – 17) on how COVID-19 has exposed the deep racial disparities in our country’s health care system. In her latest Kamala’s Corner column piece, We Can’t Let Up the Fight to End the Black Maternal Health Crisis – Especially Right Now, she talks to ESSENCE about:

  • The On-going Health Disparities Between Pregnant Black Women and White Women: “…Black women are three to four times more likely than White women to die from pregnancyrelated causes and twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy-related complications. These disparities persist regardless of one’s income or education level. So, while this is a stressful time for any expectant mother, the potential ramifications that come with giving birth during a pandemic – and specifically a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting African Americans – is of particular concern to Black women…”
  • Underlying Health Conditions Affecting Black People During COVID-19: “We already know that people who have certain underlying health conditions are more at risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19. Sadly, data shows that Black people are 20 percent more likely to have asthma than our White counterparts. We are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure. And for Black women, we are three times more likely than White women to be diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that medical professionals warn could increase one’s chances of getting any kind of infection. Black women can’t afford not to be heard when their lives and babies are on the line, but they especially can’t afford to be shut out when we are going through a pandemic…”
  • The Black Maternal Health Momnibus: “That is why, this year, I was proud to partner with Rep. Lauren Underwood and Rep. Alma Adams to introduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus. This historic package of bills that would tackle systemic health disparities by making much needed investments in social determinants that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition. It calls for more diversity in the perinatal workforce, so every mom is provided with inclusive care…”

For more on this story, visit ESSENCE.com.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: ESSENCE.COM OP-ED

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pens an exclusive op-ed for ESSENCE.com entitled, Closing the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Good. In this piece, she talks about the threat that young students of color face every day, rethinking the approach to public education and public safety and more. She states:

“In the 1990’s, hundreds of police officers were deployed to public schools across the country as a component of the war on drugs and later in response to school shootings. Today, at least fourteen million students attend schools staffed with a police officer — but without a single counselor, social worker, psychologist, or nurse.

The result is that in many cases, an infraction as simple as back talking or skipping class that should end in detention or administrative intervention can end in arrest. Over the years, the implementation of policies from Zero-Tolerance to surveillance to criminalizing lateness and absenteeism have created a system of loopholes that trap our most vulnerable students in a pipeline kept alive by the for-profit prison system. It’s a system that disproportionately hurts black and brown students and undermines their learning…As President, I will work to close the school to prison pipeline, by rethinking our approach to public education and public safety…”

In addition, she reflects on her recently revealed plan to invest $800 billion in public schools and how she would invest “an additional $100 billion in ‘Excellence Grants’—that’s equivalent to $1 million for every public school in the country—to invest in things like after school arts programs and school-based student mentoring programs…” This would be in an overall effort toreduce the impact of systemic racial and economic disadvantage on students.

For more, visit ESSENCE.com.

Will Candidates Talk About Disability at the Debates?

This year marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becoming law. The ADA was intended to ensure that people with disabilities could earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. With the Democratic candidates debating this week in Detroit, the question remains if any of the candidates will address the one-in-four adults in the U.S. who have a disability from the debate stage.

Just 12 of the 20 Democratic candidates debating this week made any mention of the ADA anniversary on Friday.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden tweeted that he was “proud to have cosponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act” and thanked Sen. Harkin for his “vision & persistence” to ensuring its passage, “a critical step in the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities.” Biden also talked about his own stutter, tweeting that his parents taught him “that being different is no barrier to success.”

“Today, on the Act’s anniversary, we must recommit to fully breaking down barriers so everyone has the opportunity to succeed—no matter their zip code, income, race, or disability,” Biden also tweeted. “As president, I’ll ensure everyone’s treated with dignity and respect.”

The Biden campaign also unveiled a new page on its website devoted to people with disabilities, joining the Sanders and Booker campaign in being the third campaign to do so. His plans, so far, include ensuring that children with disabilities “get the education and training they need to succeed;” protecting and building on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid; training police departments for interactions for people with mental illness, autism or who are deaf “so misunderstanding does not lead to incarceration;” and to ensure people with mental health problems “are provided with the housing or other social services they may need.”

Cory Booker

Cory Booker, who also has a page on his website devoted to equality for people with disabilities, tweeted “We have more to do to ensure equality for Americans with disabilities who still face high poverty rates & barriers to health care & quality of life. As president, I’ll fight for equal rights & inclusion for people with disabilities.”

“As president, Cory will work to ensure accessibility, equality, and opportunity for all people with disabilities,” his website states, including, “break down barriers to accessing employment, transportation, housing, and health care with the Disability Integration Act; fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and raise wages for people with disabilities by phasing out the subminimum wage.”

The Booker campaign also has a new accessibility policy on its website. “Cory 2020 is dedicated to offering a quality online experience to those with disabilities,” it states. “Cory 2020 is working to achieve substantial conformance with generally-recognized and accepted guidelines for website accessibility… The website will continue to be assessed on a recurring basis in an effort to substantially comply with these guidelines.”

This is important as a study last month by the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired found that none of the 2020 presidential candidates have websites that fully comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Just a few days following this study, the Booker campaign had an hour-long phone call with RespectAbility detailing steps they could take to become more accessible – on their website as well as via social media, at events, etc.

Steve Bullock

“29 years ago today, the ADA began to tear down the walls preventing them from the fair shot they deserve,” Steve Bullock tweeted.

The Montana Governor also talked about his work as governor. “I fought for folks with disabilities to receive equal wages and work without discrimination — but we have a long way to go,” he tweeted. “On the anniversary of the ADA, we must all recommit to ensuring a fair shot for every American. As President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

Montana now ranks 8th in the nation for employment rates of people with disabilities with 31,935 of the 69,553 working-age (18-64) Montanans with disabilities being employed. The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows Montana has maintained a 45.9 percent disability employment rate from 2017 to 2018.

Julián Castro

“For 29 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped defend the rights of disabled Americans,” Julián Castro tweeted. “It is integral to building an inclusive, fair, and just nation and as president, I will defend and strengthen it.”

In a series of additional tweets, Castro outlined his People First policies, including “fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act,” strengthening housing protections, and fixing the system that leads to disabled people being killed by police.

“There’s so much more that needs to be done to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities, and I am committed to that cause,” he closed.

Kirsten Gillibrand

“29 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act codified protections against discrimination based on disability,” Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted. “My presidency will advance this fight, including having disability community representation in my Cabinet. Let’s keep working to make our society accessible for all.”

In May, Gillibrand made news with a new commitment of having someone with a disability in her Cabinet. The issue of hiring staff with disabilities on the campaign has been addressed by two other presidential candidates: Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg. Both of them have promised to hire campaign staff with disabilities, and O’Rourke promised to hire them to positions of leadership on the campaign and, if he wins, in the Oval Office. Buttigieg already has followed through with his promise of hiring a person with a disability on his campaign staff.

One month later, in response to a question posed to all of the viable 2020 presidential candidates by RespectAbility, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities, Gillibrand’s campaign has pledged to not only “make accommodations to enable staff with a disability to perform their job without undue hardship” but also “to make volunteer opportunities inclusive and encourage creative solutions to allow people with disabilities to be an active part of our team.”

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, who held an hour-long call with her supporters on this topic on Friday, wrote a blog post “recommitting to build an America that is fully inclusive and accessible for everyone,” noting that there is still a lot of work to do 29 years later.

She called for ensuring all people with disabilities receive the minimum wage or higher; equal access to educational opportunities for children with disabilities; and “access to quality health care and community supports and services.”

“As the former Attorney General of California, I know the impact that strong enforcement of civil rights laws can have on the lives of Americans,” she wrote. “That’s why I will appoint an Attorney General who prioritizes enforcement of the ADA, and all disability civil rights laws, and will double the size of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to ensure we have the resources to back up that commitment.”

Harris also unveiled her campaign’s Americans with Disabilities Leadership Council, which “will work closely with my team and me throughout this campaign to take on the issues that are most important to Americans with disabilities.”

Amy Klobuchar

“The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 29 years ago today, ensuring accessibility for all Americans and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability,” Amy Klobuchar tweeted. “It changed millions of lives and we’re a better nation because of it.”

Disability is personal to Klobuchar. When her daughter was born, she could not swallow for the first two years of her life. “Many Minnesotans know a family or a person who has been affected by a disability,” she wrote in 2015. “For a lot of us, this is personal. … [D]uring those two years, I was able to see through the eyes of a parent of a child who was struggling, and I know that, like me, the parents of children with disabilities want what is best for their families — both now and for the years to come.”

Beto O’Rourke

“The ADA is a landmark law—but recently, it has been under attack,” Beto O’Rourke tweeted. “29 years after its passage, let’s build a country where Americans with disabilities have full access to education, opportunity, and the workforce, are treated with dignity, and can live to their full potential.”

Disability is personal to O’Rourke. His 38-year-old younger sister, Erin, has intellectual and developmental disabilities. She grew up in public special education classrooms in and around El Paso, TX and currently lives in a community for intellectually disabled adults. He is close to his sister and instructs his aides that “unless he’s in an interview,” he will stop everything to take her frequent calls. “Some longtime El Pasoans credit O’Rourke’s family with always proudly including Erin in all activities,” the Dallas News reported. What’s more, O’Rourke regularly mentions Erin on the campaign trail when discussing disability issues, particularly when it comes to education.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders called for recommitting to “championing the rights of people with disabilities,” citing a “moral responsibility.”

“We must guarantee people with disabilities the right to live in the community; truly integrated employment that pays a living wage; affordable, accessible housing; and the right to health care, including mental health care and home and community based services and supports,” he tweeted, following up with a tweet calling to get rid of “waiting lists and means tests.”

As he did in 2016, his campaign has a dedicated page on their website for disability issues. While some of the other campaigns have pages on mental health, the Sanders campaign was the first 2020 campaign to have a dedicated page on disability rights on their website.

“We need a president who will champion expanding the rights of people with disabilities,” his website reads. “Despite the progress that has been made over the past two decades, we unfortunately still live in a world where people with disabilities have fewer work opportunities and where the civil rights of people with disabilities are not always protected and respected. People with disabilities experience much higher poverty rates than people without disabilities. As a nation, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all Americans have the support they need to live with dignity.”

It also is important to note that people with disabilities are included on his page outlining his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. One of his organizational priorities, for example, is “increasing engagement of communities of color, women, those with disabilities, and all people historically shut out of electoral and caucus processes.”

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren tweeted several statements, the first of which she spoke about her first job out of college – “teaching students with speech and learning disabilities at a public school.” She witnessed firsthand how the ADA changed the lives of the children in her classroom.

“It not only helped dismantle prejudices about Americans with disabilities, it recognized their right to live, work, and love independently,” she tweeted. Yet, she said, there is more work to be done. “As I celebrate the ADA today, I’m committing to continue the fight to protect these rights every step of the way.”

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson’s Instagram post and Tweet have come under fire from many in the disability community for insensitive language and her focus on visiting a sheltered workshop in Las Vegas that pays its disabled employees less than a dollar an hour. On Monday afternoon, her Instagram post was edited, removing any reference to Opportunity Village but not removing the phrase “differently abled,” a term the disability community does not use to describe themselves.

In her Instagram post, Williamson calls for people with disabilities being able to access “all educational and training programs,” including preparing children for with disabilities for “post-secondary education” and increasing funding for assistive technology.

Andrew Yang

“For 29 years Americans with disabilities have had a greater sense of dignity and respect,” Andrew Yang tweeted. “More work to be done but my family is thankful for the ADA.”

Yang is the father of two sons, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. The issues of early intervention and erasing stigma for people with autism is not just important to him. It’s personal. He believes so much in his Autism Intervention Program and Funding that he discusses them in person and on his website.

On his campaign website, he writes, “One of my boys is on the autism spectrum—I know how invaluable resources and intervention can be, particularly if adopted early on. Families struggle with this in very personal ways. As a country, we should provide ample resources to parents to be able to intervene to support the development of children with autism or who are exceptional in other ways. Many of these children have something unique to offer.”

Donald Trump

Current President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in 2020, also commemorated the anniversary.

“Today, we renew our commitment to empowering Americans with disabilities through equal access so they can achieve their full potential, and we celebrate their contributions to our great Nation,” Trump said in a proclamation. “The more than 61 million Americans who are currently living with disabilities are part of the fabric of our Nation, and the ADA helps eliminate barriers to their full participation in every community across the country.  We are grateful for the ADA for helping to foster a vibrant culture of inclusivity in our Nation.”

Trump noted that the employment rate for people with disabilities has been growing recently.

“My Administration continues to encourage hiring individuals with disabilities, including through our Multi-Agency Task Force on Improving Employment for People with Disabilities,” he said in the proclamation, citing an Executive Order to increase apprenticeship opportunities for all, including people with disabilities. “This action has helped bring reforms to ineffective training and workforce development programs, better enabling Americans with disabilities to develop in-demand skills for a wide range of industries.”

Importance of the Disability Vote

“More than half of Americans with disabilities have reached out to their elected officials or attended a political rally in the recent past versus 39 percent of Americans without a disability or any disability connection,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett, citing a recent poll. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the board chair of RespectAbility.

According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans live with some form of disability. This can include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss to people living with invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

Fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member, or a close friend with disabilities. Therefore, as the 2020 candidates take to the debate stage, it is in the best interest of every presidential candidate and the citizens of this country for candidates to recognize disability issues at this time.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said, “Both including people with disabilities in your campaign and talking about this demographic at town halls and debates is the right thing to do but you don’t have to do it because it’s just the right thing to do. It also is the smart thing to do.”

Eight candidates did not publicly celebrate the ADA through a statement on their website or social media. These candidates include: Michael Bennet; Pete Buttigieg; Bill de Blasio; John Delaney; Tulsi Gabbard; John Hickenlooper; Jay Inslee; and Tim Ryan.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” added Bartlett. “People with disabilities are politically active swing voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”

Additional research conducted by Eric Ascher and Ariella Barker.

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates.