On Monday, Kamala Harris was speaking about the Juneteenth holiday to some elementary school kids. Except she made something of a bad historical blunder in the process.
“I think that we all know today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom,” Harris told a group of about two dozen elementary school-aged children at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington. “And think about it in terms of the context of history, knowing that black people in America were not free for 400 years of slavery.”
“Let this be a day that is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom, but to speak about it honestly and accurately, both in the context of history and current application,” Harris went on during her apparently extemporaneous remarks. [….]
“We should think about it also in terms of current application, asking is everyone we know free?” Harris went on. “Do we know anyone who is not free? Around the world do all people have freedom? Are there those who are without freedom? When we talk about freedom, are we talking about freedom from — or are we talking about the freedom to?”
Except what she said wasn’t honest or accurate since the first slaves came in 1619 and slavery was ended in 1865. That’s 246 years, not 400. She was only about 150 years off.
The White House tried to clean it up, acknowledging the error and saying that she was referring to the fact that it’s been about 400 years since the start of slavery in America. Yeah, no, that isn’t what she said. It’s especially bad that she’s saying that to kids so now kids may be taking away an incorrect understanding of history.
She’s had a problem with this in the past, noting in 2019 that it was “400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the United States.”
Last week marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the United States. Our country’s history of slavery and institutional racism continues to cause great pain and inequality toward communities of color. We have to speak truth and confront this reality.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 27, 2019
Except that wasn’t quite true either, since the United States hadn’t existed for 400 years at that point, only 243 years.
Harris hasn’t been in office that long but she already has compiled an impressive list of cringe-worthy moments and gaffes. She’s become known for her word salads and speaking as though she’s saying something momentous, while not saying much of anything. She’s even been given a new charge (despite not having done much of anything with her border responsibility) — to head up an “internet policy task force” that seems like a re-packaged Disinformation Governance Board. Already the White House doesn’t seem to have any idea what they’re doing regarding that. But, about the best we can say when it comes to Harris is that her list of gaffes doesn’t yet reach the considerably longer list of gaffes of her boss, Joe Biden.
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