Back in October, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was interviewed by Elle fashion magazine for a predictably glowing puff piece designed to make the Senator sound like the greatest potential national leader in American history.

So great, in fact, that she was even talking about American “fweedom” while still being wheeled around in her stroller in the late 1960s if the story she told the magazine is to be believed:

Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young. 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. 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 says, “and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’”

It’s a cute story on its face, and for the less discerning reader it might give off the impression that Harris was wise beyond her years in demanding “fweedom” at such a young age when most tykes were understandably more interested in ice cream, play toys, and naps than what was going on in the world around them.

The interview didn’t generate much buzz at the time. But on Monday, nearly three months to the day after the interview was published, it resurfaced on Twitter – but this time with a rather interesting side-by-side comparison. Harris, it would seem, may have lifted parts of her cutesy “fweedom” story from an interview the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. gave to Playboy magazine in January 1965:

The lengthy 1965 interview was done by Alex Haley shortly after King had won and accepted the Nobel Peace prize:

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.

Speculation about the stories spawned memes and flashbacks to Joe Biden’s own issues with plagiarism and spinning tall tales:

Considering Biden’s well-documented history of plagiarism and just generally making stuff up that didn’t happen, as well as Harris’ penchant for scripted performances, it would appear that both he and his running mate have far more in common than first thought – even though I suspect there’s a strong possibility that Harris, unlike Biden, really does only read Playboy magazine for the articles.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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