The battle for 2020: Possible Democratic presidential candidates
South Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have thus far been a prime destination for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Since October, more 2020 Democrats have visited Allen University, a Columbia-based HBCU with an enrollment of roughly 700, than both of the state’s biggest schools, Clemson and the University of South Carolina, combined, according to a rolling count kept by The State.
But one candidate is taking that a step further.
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced Wednesday her campaign will be helping to organize student groups, particularly fraternities and sororities, on campuses of historically black colleges and campuses to grow support for Harris, an alumna of Howard University in Washington D.C.
Campaign surrogates — influential people who support a candidate’s message — and senior members of Harris’ campaign will make appearances at some of these campus groups’ events, according to a press release. Her campaign will also be selling specialized merchandise for fraternities and sororities at HBCUs.
Harris is an alumna of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which has just under 300,000 members, according to the organization’s website. CNN has called Harris’ sorority sisters her “secret weapon” in the 2020 election.
Harris’s time at Howard, a private, historically black college, jump-started her political involvement, according to an article from the Los Angeles Times.
“We would dance on Friday nights and we would protest on Saturday mornings,” Harris said in a video posted to Twitter announcing the initiative.
Harris, who announced her candidacy at Howard University, has visited more HBCUs nationwide than any other presidential candidate, according to an April article from the Associated Press. However, in South Carolina — where the presidential primaries are the first in the South — she is behind several other candidates.
Of South Carolina’s eight HBCUs, Harris has visited one, South Carolina State University, since announcing her run. However, Cory Booker has visited six HBCUs and Bernie Sanders has visited three, according the previous articles from The State.
Other 2020 presidential hopefuls — Pete Buttigieg, Bill de Blasio, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren — have also visited an HBCU in South Carolina.