South L.A. educator Daphne Bradford makes presidential run to inspire her students

Daphne Bradford (center) with her students at Dorsey High School. (Photo: Ling Luo)

The Democratic party is gearing up to take on president Trump in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Big names like Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker and Elizabeth Warren are among the most notable Democratic candidates hoping to take back the White House next year.

Here in California, Senator Kamala Harris has received quite a bit of attention after she launched her presidential candidacy. But Senator Harris, an Oakland native, is not the only Californian up for the Democratic nomination.

Daphne Bradford, an educator at Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles, announced in December that she too will be running for president of the United States. Bradford, a Compton native, said her South L.A. upbringing has shaped who she’s become today.

“[Growing up in South L.A.] makes you understand the issues, it makes you dream bigger,” said Bradford.

Bradford is running on a platform advocating for universal healthcare, common sense gun laws, support for women’s rights in the workplace, and improvements in the education system.

She plans to use her candidacy to teach students at Dorsey High School about the political process. She will guide her students through the voting process and offer them the rare opportunity to follow an actual presidential candidate as she runs her campaign. The students will participate in lessons and complete assignments that cover the political process.

“These kids don’t even know what the political process is,” Bradford said. “Dorsey and King Drew High School students are going to be able to follow along and see what it is… It’s a great experience and it’s fun to let the kids know you can do anything you put your heart to.”

High school student wears a “Bradford for Reunited 2020” t-shirt. (Photo: Ling Luo)

Bradford’s candidacy may make some wonder how an everyday person like herself can become a presidential candidate. Bradford said she was encouraged to run after receiving advice from a friend.

“[It started] when one of my girlfriends said, ‘you should run for president, look at all of the stuff you’ve done,’” Bradford said.

Bradford said the process of becoming a candidate was an easy one.

According to usa.gov, the requirements for becoming a presidential candidate are: being a natural born U.S. citizen, being over 35 years of age, and having lived in the country for at least 14 years. After you raise over 5,000 dollars for your campaign, you register with the FEC.

With the help of her friends, Bradford was able raise the initial funds she needed to start her campaign.

HER PLATFORM

Fixing the healthcare system is Bradford’s top priority. She said she’s in favor of Medicare for all, but also wants to support the private healthcare industry with a plan similar to that of President Obama.

“Healthcare is too expensive.” Bradford said. “Medicare for all is good, but I’m for keeping private industry. I don’t mind paying $200, but I’m paying like $700. It’s too much. So healthcare is [my] number one [issue].”

Bradford is also a gun owner and a proponent of what she called, “common sense gun reforms.” While Bradford said she supports the rights of a person to own a gun, she believes some restriction is necessary.

“I’m pro-second amendment, but we don’t need to have assault rifles in the hands of some folks,” Bradford said. “You need to do background checks…they need to increase the age [requirement for buying guns]. There are too many guns in the hands of people [who shouldn’t have them].”

Bradford’s experience as a victim of sexual harassment is one she hopes to address in her campaign. She said that in order to combat sexual misconduct, workplace policies need to change and definitions of what is and is not appropriate need to be clearly defined.

“We have to come up with new policies around it because things have changed.,” Bradford said. “And there’s a lot of men doing the same thing to women. I would like to have a whole new set of #MeToo policies for the workplace…there has to be more training.”

Bradford addresses students in the Dorsey High School Gymnasium. (Photo: Ling Luo)

Bradford said she has mixed opinions about Senator Harris after one of her top aides recently resigned after accusations of sexual harassment resurfaced.

“I’m very disappointed that she wants us to believe that she didn’t know anything about the sexual harassment case that was settled against her director of security. We’re not believing that,” said Bradford of her opponent.

Senator Harris is not the only democratic candidate who’s received criticism over sexual misconduct allegations in their staff. Senator Bernie Sanders has recently come under fire over accusations of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination in his 2016 campaign staff.

HER EXPERIENCE

Throughout her working life, Bradford has worn many hats.

She has worked in real estate and Wall Street. She has even modeled. While pursuing her modeling career, Bradford entered a contest at the South Los Angeles radio station KACE. Shortly after, she began working for the radio station as a producer and DJ.

In 2006, Bradford founded the non-profit organization, Mother of Many or M.O.M. Since then, it has provided underserved schoolchildren with modern technology and certification opportunities. The organization’s purpose is to prepare children for college and the workforce by giving them the tools they need to compete in the modern world.

Bradford was inspired to start Mother of Many after she met civil rights leader Rosa Parks while working at Bailey Broadcasting Services in 1999. According to Bradford’s website, she was one of the last people to interview Parks before her death, an experience Bradford said had a pivotal influence on her career path.

Bradford walking with students wearing “Mother of Many” shirts. (Photo: Ling Luo)

“[Rosa Parks] talked about how much strength she had during [the Civil Rights Movement]. I said [to myself], ‘who’s going to carry this on?’ So, I came up with the name for my non-profit spiritually. God tells me, ‘mother of many, you do it’, and so I established a foundation and it just kind of changed the whole trajectory of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do,” said Bradford.

Bradford began her career in education at Locke High School in 2006 teaching a class on radio production. Bradford was drawn to Locke after a student was killed in front of the school. She says her disgust over the killing drove her to want to do something to help the children. Bradford said a career in education was a natural choice for her.

“Education chose me. I turned Locke High School into a certified Apple training center and then it went on from there,” Bradford said.

Bradford has been awarded for her work in education by Apple, Microsoft and even the White House. In 2013 Bradford was honored as a White House “Champion for Change” by President Barack Obama for her work with Mother of Many.

“That was an amazing experience,” Bradford said. “I took my grandmother with me, she’ll be 93 in March, and she just never thought she would ever see anything like that in her life.”

Besides technological equity, Bradford also works on community building with her students. At Dorsey High, Bradford started a program called “Building Blue Bridges,” which works to open a dialogue between students of color and police officers.

“We have officers on LAPD [and] L.A. school police sitting at the tables with black and brown school kids to make a difference,” Bradford said. “We’re trying to build blue bridges and [show] that we know that the lives matter of everybody involved.”

LAPD and high school student discuss the issues at Bradford’s Building Blue Bridges event. (Photo: Ling Luo)

The “Building Blue Bridges” program is an extension of Bradford’s “We Know Black, Brown and Blue Lives Matter” campaign. The campaign is designed to improve relations between police officers and the communities they serve by addressing issues within the criminal justice system and opening up dialogue between inner-city youth and law enforcement officers. Bradford believes this program can be a viable solution to issues concerning law-enforcement officers across the country.

“[The community and police officers] can talk to each other…this program has a huge potential to go national,” Bradford said.

SETTING AN EXAMPLE

Bradford said Trump’s presidency has provided a great platform to address issues she believes the president has not.

“I knew [President Trump’s presidency] was going to be disastrous whatever it was. Now [Trump] has given me a very successful platform to stand on with issues like #MeToo, healthcare, education,” Bradford said.

Bradford hopes her presidential candidacy can serve as an example for young women and young people of color.

“I’m letting them know that the sky’s the limit. You don’t have anything to lose,” Bradford said.