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US Fact check: Kamala Harris was part of the second integrated class in elementary school

21:15  16 august  2020
21:15  16 august  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The claim: Sen. Kamala Harris lied about being part of the second class to be integrated at her elementary school

a group of people wearing costumes: This January 1970 photo provided by the Kamala Harris campaign shows her, left, with her sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, outside their apartment in Berkeley, Calif., after her parents' separation. © AP This January 1970 photo provided by the Kamala Harris campaign shows her, left, with her sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, outside their apartment in Berkeley, Calif., after her parents' separation.

Following a heated Democratic presidential debate clash in June 2019 between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., social media posts and articles surfaced claiming Harris lied about her experience with Berkeley Public Schools.

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"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 said during the debate. Shortly after, users on social media questioned her statement.

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And with Biden announcing the California senator as his running mate in November's presidential election, the allegation that Harris lied about her experience has recently gained steam, along with many other false claims about Harris' past.

"Kamala Harris claimed to be bussed (sic) in the 60's due segregation type issues," reads an Aug. 12 Facebook post that has been shared over 19,000 times. "She was born in 1964, thus 6 years old in 1970."

The user did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

Just after the debate, in June 2019, The Gateway Pundit, a site rated by Media Bias/ Fact check as questionable for having an extreme right-wing bias and promoting conspiracy theories, was among those stating the claim, as well. It published an article headlined: "SHE LIED: Kamala Harris Says She Was in Second Integrated Class in Berkeley — But Yearbook Pictures Prove She’s Lying."

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USA TODAY has reached out to Gateway Pundit for comment.

But despite the claim being repeatedly debunked within the past year, posts on social media persist.

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Berkeley Public Schools: 'Harris is correct'

Following many requests from the media about Harris' experience at Berkeley's Thousand Oaks Elementary School, the school district issued a statement to clear up the misinformation.

"Senator Harris is correct in describing her experience as the second class to be part of the busing integration program," Berkeley Public Schools wrote in 2019. "All Berkeley elementary schools were integrated through an innovative two-way busing plan, which was implemented voluntarily by our district beginning in 1968."

The school district added that Harris joined first grade in 1970, two years after the two-way busing plan was implemented voluntarily.

Confusion started because social media users noted that Berkeley's high school was already integrated, but the high school was integrated by default.

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However, elementary schools "reflected the racial composition of our neighborhoods, which like many neighborhoods across America reflected the history of segregation stemming from policies which restricted the opportunities of non-white residents" Berkeley Public Schools' site states.

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Yearbook photos are misleading

Many blog sites and social media users reference Berkeley High School yearbook photos showing Black and white students in the 1960s as proof to support the claim that Harris lied about her experience. This is misleading because it was — and still is — the only public high school in the city, therefore it was integrated by necessity.

Charles Burress, district spokesman, told the Associated Press: It "was the only high school, that’s where all the kids in the city would go" adding that the school system has “accepted as fact” that Harris went to Thousand Oaks Elementary School.

According to historical information from Berkeley schools, the school board voted unanimously to desegregate all 14 of the district's elementary schools on Jan. 15, 1968.

Then-Harris campaign spokesman Ian Sams confirmed to the Associated Press that Harris started school at Thousand Oaks Elementary a year later.

Local news website Berkeleyside also reported that Harris was bused to school from her family's apartment on Bancroft Way.

Carole Porter, neighbor and friend of Harris, said in an email to CNN that, "Kamala and I took the bus to Thousand Oaks School in Berkeley together."

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Many news outlets such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic have reported on Harris' participation in Berkeley's busing program.

Our ruling: False

Harris was part of the second integrated class at Thousand Oaks Elementary School. Harris started attending public school in first grade, in 1970, and the school district's full integration was approved in 1968. We rate this claim as FALSE because it is not supported by our research.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Berkeley Public Schools, July 2019, The History of Integration in Berkeley Elementary Schools and Senator Harris
  • Associated Press, June 18, 2019, NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week
  • Berkeley Public Schools, Dec. 17, 2018, 50th Anniversary of Berkeley’s Pioneering Busing Plan for School Integration
  • Berkeleyside, Jan. 24, 2019, Did Kamala Harris’ Berkeley childhood shape the presidential hopeful?
  • CNN, June 29, 2019, Fact check: Kamala Harris was correct on integration in Berkeley, school district confirms
  • New York Times, June 30, 2019, Kamala Harris and Classmates Were Bused Across Berkeley. The Experience Changed Them.
  • Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2019, School busing in Berkeley during Kamala Harris’ childhood was both voluntary and volatile
  • The Atlantic, July 1, 2019, There’s a Generational Shift in the Debate Over Busing
  • PolitiFact, July 2, 2019, Was Kamala Harris ‘part of second class to integrate’ Berkeley's public schools?

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Kamala Harris was part of the second integrated class in elementary school

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usr: 0
This is interesting!