Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at church during Black History Month celebration

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It was a true celebration at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church on Sunday as the congregation held a special service on Sunday to honor Black History Month.

Among the guests there was U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

"When we celebrate black history, it is about celebrating those great leaders on whose shoulders we stand."

Harris spoke exclusively with ABC7 before her speech, sharing both the achievements and challenges of the African-American community.

"We continue to elect more African Americans into the United States Congress and to positions of leadership as mayors in cities, but there are many challenges. Let's remember that black maternal mortality, which is black women dying in connection with child birth, that black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with child birth than other women. Let's remember the wealth gap and that black Americans own one-tenth approximately of the wealth of other families," Harris said.

During that speech inside the church, Harris also voiced the importance of voting in this year's presidential election.

"Let us make history in November and turn out -- and make sure everybody you know is registered. The stakes are so high right now."

As the second black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, and most recently, a democratic presidential candidate, Harris spoke in front of people of all ages at the congregation - including kids - understanding the power of strong role models in all communities.

"It's important that we raise children in a way -- and I was certainly raised in this way -- to believe that you should see what can be regardless of what has been," she said.
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