Kamala Harris and Rev. Al Sharpton talk important issues over soul food

Levar Alonzo | 2/28/2019, 10:23 a.m.
Since announcing she was running for president of the United States, California Sen. Kamala Harris has been busy.
Rev. Al Sharpton and Seantor Kamala Harris at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem. Bill Moore photo

Since announcing she was running for president of the United States, California Sen. Kamala Harris has been busy. On Thursday, Feb. 21, she had lunch with the Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s Restaurant, the famed soul food eatery in Harlem. Last month, she held a rally in her home state, a CNN town-hall event in Iowa and another town-hall like event in New Hampshire.

Harris is looking to become the first Black female president, following in the footsteps of the first Black president, Barack Obama, who also met with Sharpton during his bid. According to Sharpton, she had the chicken and waffles, just like Obama. They discussed criminal justice, voting rights and economic policies—all issues that are of concern to the Black community.

“Obama ate with me here, in 2007, and Bernie Sanders did the same, in 2016,” said Sharpton. “So, this has become a tradition. The significance is that Obama went on to win the presidential bid.”

Sharpton said that Harris was the only one of the candidates that asked to meet with him and have lunch at Sylvia’s. Many of the other Democratic candidates will attend the National Action Network upcoming convention. He said she was the only one that mentioned Sylvia’s.

“She told me next time she was in New York, take me to Sylvia’s,” said Sharpton.

Harris left the lunch meeting without speaking to the gathered press. Many wanted her to speak on criminal justice and the Jussie Smollett incident.

Harris had displayed her support for Smollett but has since recanted and has posted on Twitter that after seeing the reports she was sad, frustrated and disappointed.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to hear her speak but we’ll have lots more time for that and I’m looking forward to a successful campaign by her,” said Collette V. Smith, first Black female National Football league coach.

For Smith looking ahead at the possibility of having the first female Black president is an exciting likelihood.

“As the first African-American female coach in the history of the NFL, to have the first Black female president of these United States of America would mean the world to me,” she said. “This world needs it and women are strong, we been fighting our whole lives.”

Other members of the community who were passing by and saw the horde of press personnel stopped to take a look at the presidential hopeful.

Ray Rice, who is visiting Harlem from Baltimore, Md., said it was a nice showing for her to come to Sylvia’s but for him to make an assessment on her he needed to know more about her.

“To be honest I don’t know much about her. I seriously have to go home and do my homework on her,” he said. “But Black people have to have an agenda that addresses our concerns and I hope she’s looking at that.”

When Sharpton was asked if he would endorse Harris, he shrugged.

“We’ll see,” he said.