Kamala Harris and Classmates Were Bused Across Berkeley. The Experience Changed Them.

Lynn Sherrell, 78, taught sixth grade the first year of integration.

“Among the black and white teachers there tended to be a division, and there was lunchroom segregation,” Ms. Sherrell, who is white, said. “It got ugly.”

Black faculty members were meeting separately, she said, and white teachers felt left out.

But she and her friends believed a better, less racially tense future was ahead, Ms. Sherrell said. Sometimes now she is less sure.

“It was one of the primary elements of my life and my career,” said Ms. Sherrell, who later became a tax lawyer. “We’re so much wondering now — did it do anything? Did it do any good? Was it just a big waste?”

Berkeley voted to phase out its busing program in 1994. Busing has largely been seen as a failed effort: Across the country today, schools are still segregated, and the number of intensely segregated schools is growing.

Ms. Harris has argued that school integration is one of the reasons she could become a senator. During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett M. Kavanaugh, during which Ms. Harris grilled the future justice, she also wrote about her own life.

“I wouldn’t be part of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings had Chief Justice Warren not been on the Supreme Court to lead the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board,” Ms. Harris posted on Twitter in September 2018. “Had someone else been there, I may not have become a U.S. Senator. I know the impact one Justice can have.”

Now, Berkeley is a wealthier and whiter town than when Ms. Harris was growing up. In 1970, the city was 23 percent black; today it is only 10 percent black. The median sale price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1.2 million, up from $682,500 just five years ago, according to the real estate listings site Trulia. Many of the historically black neighborhoods have been gentrified.

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