On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris appeared in her first solo event as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee to discuss the different ways Black women can continue to be engaged in the fight for our democracy.
During the beginning, 50-minute virtual event, Harris answered questions posed by U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, during the virtual gathering.
The event titled, “Sister to Sister: Mobilizing in Action Roundtable” was hosted in conjunction with Essence Magazine and featured panelists Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie Rollins, and Chairwoman of Sisters Lead, Sisters Vote Melanie Campbell, along with Sen. Harris and Rep. Lawrence.
At some point in the conversation, Harris pointed to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released last year that found Russian agents targeted African Americans more than any other group with disinformation campaigns. The senator also noted court decisions that removed key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing states to make it more difficult for racial minorities to vote.
“Why do you think they don’t want us to vote?” Harris said. “It’s because they know when we vote, things change. When we vote, we have the ability through our voice connected with our vote to say: We are present; we matter; we will be seen; we will be heard, and you will be accountable to us.”
Michigan had its third-highest presidential turnout election in 2016 with 4.874 million voters, following the 4.875 million voters in 2004 and 5.039 million in 2008 when Barack Obama first won the state.
Harris was asked about choosing Detroit for the focus of Wednesday’s event, Harris said the city “is a big part of America’s history” and is facing “some of the greatest disparities in terms of access to health care, educational opportunities, economic opportunities.”
The Democratic candidate noted those problems and highlighted a lack of representation of Black women in the halls of power.
Michigan voters are excited about the leadership of Biden and Harris, said Lawrence, who is Michigan’s only African American member of Congress.
“The fact that you chose Detroit, it just energizes us more,” the Southfield Democrat said about the Wednesday event.
Harris also took time to address the shooting of Jacob Blake, saying that two systems of justice exists for Black Americans.
Harris said she and Biden spoke with the family of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot from behind by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The incident sparked protests this week, which descended into violent riots overnight.
‘What happened there is so tragic and still represents the two systems of justice in America,” Harris said. ” We need to fight for that ideal that says, all people are supposed to be treated equally, which is still not happening.”
She also touched on the importance of Black women mentors and mentees in order to raise the next generation of leaders.
“Your voice matters and you will never be alone, we will always be in that room with you,” Harris said.
She closed with encouraging Black women to continue to activate their communities to vote.
“I just want to remind everybody that elections matter,” she added.