Published January 05, 2021
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has previously told the anecdote about her younger self crying out for "Fweedom!" — which has sparked accusations of plagiarism — in her books.
"My mother used to laugh when she told the story about a time I was fussing as a toddler: She leaned down to me and asked, 'Kamala, what's wrong? What do you want?' And I wailed back, 'Fweedom,'" Harris wrote in her 2010 book "Smart on Crime."
Harris also detailed her younger self demanding "Fweedom!" in her 2019 book "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey."
Harris apparently appropriated an anecdote first told by civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. when she was interviewed by Elle Magazine for a feature that was published in October, at the height of the 2020 presidential election race.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, accompanied by her husband Doug Emhoff, talks to the media after dropping off Toys for Tots items at a District of Columbia Fire House, Tuesday Dec. 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Harris has repeatedly boasted of her parents' involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In the Elle interview, she recalled accompanying them to marches as a toddler in a stroller.
"Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young," writer Ashley C. Ford led off the piece. "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 ... and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset."
"My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing," Harris told the magazine. "And she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’"
After the interview resurfaced Monday, Twitter user @EngelsFreddie and Andray Domise, contributing editor of the Canadian publication Maclean's, noted that Harris' story resembled one told by King in a 1965 interview published in Playboy.
"I will never 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," King said at the time. "'What do you want?' the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked at 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."
Fox News' Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.