Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has already made history. And with the launch of her 2020 presidential campaign, she pays homage to a political trailblazer who came before her — almost exactly 47 years ago this week.
Her logo pays tribute to Shirley Chisholm, the first black candidate who vied for a major party’s presidential nomination when she sought the Democratic Party’s nod in 1972. She was the first woman to seek the Democratic Party's nomination as well.
Harris' slogan “For the People” is both a nod to her work as a prosecutor, when Harris would address the court as “Kamala Harris, for the people” as well as a tie to Chisholm with the yellow and red colors the former New York congresswoman used in her presidential bid, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
When Chisholm declared her candidacy on Jan. 25, 1972, she said, "I am the candidate of the people of America."
Like Chisholm, Harris, too, has made historic strides in politics. She was the first black person and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, a job she held for eight years. And when she joined the U.S. Senate in 2017, Harris became the first South Asian-American and only the second black woman elected.
Harris, the 54-year-old longtime prosecutor, officially announced she’s running for president on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m very excited about it,” she said during a television appearance, later adding, “So today, the day we celebrate Dr. King is a very special day for all of us as Americans, and I’m honored to be able to make my announcement on the day that commemorates him.”
The timing of her announcement was a clear signal that the California senator — who has joked that she had a “stroller's-eye view” of the civil rights movement because her parents wheeled her and her sister to protests — sees herself as another leader in that fight. She noted her parents – from Jamaica and India – were “very active in the civil rights movement.”
She paired the announcement with the release of a campaign video on social media in which she said, “Truth. Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren’t’ just words. They’re the values we as Americans cherish. And they’re all on the line now.”
Aside from Harris, other potential 2020 Democrats used the holiday to campaign – or preview possible future campaigns. An annual rally to observe King’s birthday in South Carolina, a critical early-voting state in the Democratic primary, brought two senators expected to make White House bids: Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
In the nation’s capital, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is weighing a presidential bid, was speaking at a King event alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, also considering a 2020 run.
Two candidates who have already opened exploratory committees – Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – will also appear at King-centered events.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.