Kamala Harris grilled Joe Biden on race and it may have changed the entire 2020 campaign.

In the lead-up to the last presidential election, thousands upon thousands of people begged Joe Biden to run. And after Donald Trump was elected, even more people demanded that Biden, who was then seen as America's kooky but competent uncle/grandpa, take a stab at the presidency. After all, a guy who was the right-hand man to (arguably) one of America's most respected presidents had to be the best choice, right?

Well, things are a little different in 2019. Even though Biden's been polling well, his campaign has been plagued with controversy — he's been accused of sexual harassment and has ignited ire due to his positive statements about working with segregationist— and at last night's debate, he took another hit when Kamala Harris rightfully confronted him about past statements and stances.

Kamala Harris Confronts Joe Biden On Race | TIME www.youtube.com


Harris, a former prosecutor from California, the second black woman to ever be elected to the senate, and the only black woman vying for the presidency, turned her focus to Biden after telling the audience that she "would like to speak on the subject of race." Then, she said she was going to direct her next comments "at Vice President Joe Biden."

"I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground," Harris said before revealing Biden's past work in opposing integration. This, she said, was "personal."

"It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing," Harris added.

"And, you know, 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. And that little girl was me," Harris revealed before stating that the subject of race can't be "an intellectual debate among democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly."

Biden responded by saying that Harris has mischaracterized him, noting his past as a public defender (and "not a prosecutor") and Vice President to Barack Obama before stating that everything he'd done in his career was in service to civil rights. Perhaps, in other cases, this would have been enough to get him back on even footing, but Harris, who continues to prove she's a formidable opponent and a strong candidate, shot back with a question about integration.

"Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?" she asked.

"I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed. I did not oppose ——" Biden said.

"Well, there was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education," Harris shot back.

Biden and Harris face off on second night of debates | ABC News www.youtube.com

Biden's response that Harris' experience was a failure of local government landed flat, with Harris saying that the federal government must step in when states fail to support and protect civil rights.

"That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That's why we need to pass the Equality Act. That's why we need to pass the E.R.A., because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people," she said.

Though Biden tried to fight back, it was clear that no prepared answer would work. And while many might still see his performance at the debate as solid — especially in comparison to freshly-minted viral sensation Marianne Williamson — his responses are a reminder that we must hold those who seek power accountable for their actions.

Will Harris win the nomination? That's still to be seen. But last night's performance sent the message that she's not going down without interrogating the decisions her opponents have made.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less