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Kamala Harris and the Rainbow Sign

The little-known history behind the Black cultural center in Berkeley that helped shape Kamala Harris .

About this episode:

Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect. On the latest episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee explores the little-known history of a place that shaped her identity - the Rainbow Sign. The Rainbow Sign was a Black cultural center in Berkeley, California that opened its doors in 1971 and welcomed the likes of James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Shirley Chisholm, and a young Black and Indian girl from Oakland named Kamala. In her memoir, Harris writes, “Kids like me, who spent time at Rainbow Sign were exposed to dozens of extraordinary men and women who showed us what we could become.”

Odette Pollar, whose mother Mary Ann Pollar who founded Rainbow Sign in 1971, tells Trymaine what the center was like during its brief but influential lifespan. And Dezie Woods-Jones, founder and President of Black Women Organized for Political Action, explains how the social and political climate in the Bay Area at the time gave rise to Rainbow Sign, and how the center impacted Harris’ life.

Find the transcript here.

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