At Thursday's Democratic debate, tensions grew between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden. Harris took her opportunity on the prime time stage to attack Biden over his controversial anti-segregation actions as a Senator in the 1970s, as outlined by the New York Times.
In her speech, she recalls growing up as a part of the second class of integrated busing to occur for elementary school students in Berkeley in 1969. The local junior high schools were integrated beginning in 1964, and the elementary schools followed in 1968, according to the Chronicle.
Even though Berkeley was a primarily Republican town in the 1960s, it was "the first district in the country to integrate schools using a busing plan and it was controversial," according to Ty Alper of the Berkeley Unified School Board. Harris pointed out that the town was divided along Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. The Senator said that most of the caucasian residents lived in the northern and eastern areas, whereas the majority of the black residents lived in the western and southern parts of Berkeley. Harris's family, her father Jamaican-born and her mother of Indian descent, lived west of this diving line at the edge, even though her parents were academics. Her mother was a cancer researcher and her father was a Stanford professor, according to the New York Times.
Running for Senator in 1972, Joe Biden won the election based on his support of integration in schools. But quickly soon after, he opposed busing for integration after pressure from white politicians in Delaware. He claimed the act of busing was not a proven utility.
The tense debate moment has gotten plenty of press, and showed some of Biden's vulnerability as well as plans from the remaining candidates to bring down the front runner. Since the debate, Senator Harris's favorable rating has increased by 10 points. In contrast, while Biden's favorable rating remains unchanged, his unfavorable rating has increased three points to 19%.