Kamala Harris Accused of Plagiarizing Martin Luther King Jr. in Anecdote About “Fweedom”


Conservatives across the internet are calling into question an anecdote from apparent Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, claiming it bears an unlikely resemblance to a similar anecdote from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

According to Newsweek, the claims of possible plagiarism stem from an October interview with Harris in Elle Magazine in which she recalls attending a civil rights protest with her parents as a toddler.

In the profile on Harris, author Ashley C. Ford leads with a story about the California Senator’s early life.

“Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young,” Ford writes. “She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle.”

“At some point, she fell from the stroller (few safety regulations existed for children’s equipment back then), and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching,” the author goes on. “By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset.”

Harris continues, saying, “My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.'”

For what it’s worth, this story also appears in Harris’ 2010 book, “Smart on Crime,” and her 2019 book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.”

The accusation that Harris’ story is adapted from a story from Dr. King first spread on Twitter on Monday night, when a Twitter user pointed to an interview the civil rights icon gave in Playboy Magazine in 1965.


Dr. King’s anecdote from his interview with Playboy is as follows:

“I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. ‘What do you want?’ the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, ‘Fee-dom.’ She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.”

Several conservatives have piled on Harris for the strange similarity of the two stories, especially Candace Owens who shared her own tongue-in-cheek anecdote.

Newsweek adds that Harris now has accusations of plagiarism in common with her running mate, Joe Biden, who has been accused of copying excerpts of speeches from other politicians, exaggerating his past activism, and plagiarizing papers in law school—accusations which derailed his first presidential run in 1988.

In a statement to Newsweek, Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King III, refused to commment on the controversy.

“We need to ignore noise and political attacks and focus on what is really important,” said King. “African American families have been marching for freedom for generations. As we march we must continue to focus on the ultimate goal of eradicating racism, poverty, and violence, which are central to achieving my father’s dream.”

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