A few weeks after she announced her bid for president, Sen. Kamala Harris was the target of some scathing critiques from rap legend Luther “Luke” Campbell, but now several months later, the former 2 Live Crew frontman says he thinks he got it wrong.
According to POLITICO, in an editorial in the Miami New Times, Campbell said that a lot of working class Black people had no interest in voting for the onetime prosecutor. In the essay, he bundled Harris with politicians who had denied rehabilitation for defendants and targeted the innocent. He also slammed her for her marriage to lawyer Douglass Emhoff and suggested she slept with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to advance her career.
“Like everyone else, black voters want help from one of their own,” Campbell wrote at the time, pointing out that Harris’ mother was from India. “The Bushes made sure their people got oil money. Bill Clinton let the telecommunications industry gobble up small radio and TV stations. And Donald Trump is looking out for his developer buddies through a tax cut and opportunity zones that gentrify minority neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Harris has let Black people know they can’t count on her.”
Symone Sanders, who was a free-agent Democratic strategist at the time (having worked in Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign) but later became press secretary for candidate Joe Biden’s 2020 run, balked at Campbell’s need to throw in his two cents, tweeting “Uncle Luke is no political mastermind or strategist,” adding. “Why do black men keep popping up with their unsolicited opinions about Kamala Harris?” She later faced some criticism for the quip from several directions.
But last week the rapper surprised many when he posted a video on Instagram stating he and Harris had recently spoken on the phone about her presidential priorities. Campbell agreed to the chat because he wanted to determine for himself whether she was a “real sister.”
“I went back and looked deeper at the record,” he explains in an interview with POLITICO.
Last month, Tiffany Cross, who appears on TheGrio for its “DC360” segments and is also founder and managing editor of political newsletter The Beat DC, sat down with Campbell and pointed out to him that many found his op-ed sexist. She convinced him to speak to Harris directly about his reservations.
Cross later brought up Campbell’s editorial on MSNBC’s ‘AM Joy’ with host Joy Reid, noting that the rapper may view Harris through the lens of Black men who have been disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system. Bakari Sellers, a political commentator and former South Carolina politician also chimed in saying that Campbell’s voice is an important one because he is so well respected in Florida politics.
“He’s someone that you want on your side,” Sellers said, according to POLITICO. “Luke can have the conversations that you can’t have.”
The conversations apparently had an impact because in a later sit down interview with Jemele Hill of The Atlantic, Campbell later conceded, “Out of all the candidates, I really like her the most.”
This all led to the dialogue between Harris and Campbell in which she was able to show him her re-entry program for low-level her offenders and her proposal to change how credit scores are calculated so that Blacks would have a better chance at home ownership. They also agreed on the rights of individuals to keep firearms for protection. He noted that her willingness to meet him where he is made the biggest impression.
“That got me more than anything. That I could write all those tough words … that I could say what I did on those interviews, and she’s woman enough to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation,’” he told POLITICO. “Most men, they take it personal, take their little toy and they go sit down.”
“I’m a man,” Campbell said. “I can say I made a mistake.”
He later eschewed all of the other Democratic candidates, and posted the Instagram video openly endorsing Harris, listing the reasons he felt she would make the best presidential choice.