Vaccines and Voting Rights: Vice President Harris ‘Applauds’ Michigan’s Work But It Must Continue

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a vaccine mobilization event at the TCF Center Monday, July 12 in Detroit.

Photo by Shaleena Cole, LeoSage Images

 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Detroit on Monday, July 12, with a plan in hand to discuss critical topics in the Mitten State, like urging more residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine and voting rights at the TCF Center in Detroit.

 

The event at TCF Center is Harris’ first visit to Michigan as the vice president; she was last in Detroit on Election Day last November. Harris, initially slated to arrive in late June, rescheduled her visit due to flooding.

 

Harris’ trip comes on the heels of slowing COVID-19 positivity rates in the state. According to data from https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/, as of Friday, July 9, the state of Michigan has 896,067 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19,801 COVID-19 deaths. There were also 672 daily confirmed cases and 26 deaths between last Wednesday and Friday.

 

According to USA Today, the visit also comes after significant moves were made with an announcement from Harris last week regarding a $25 million Democratic Party investment that involves voting education and access.

 

According to the article, Harris called the current national debate over voting rights “the fight of our lifetime,” linking it to past issues, adding there was a “continuum” between the efforts of people during the civil rights movement of yesterday and now.

 

Today, during an initial private listening session at the TCF Center with state and city leaders, including Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Harris spoke on voting rights. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence and Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch NAACP president, were also at the event.

 

Harris is helping put the White House administration’s efforts on voting rights at the forefront. Harris is focused on protecting the right to vote by:

  • Advancing pro-voter federal legislation
  • Combatting anti-voter state legislation
  • Mobilizing so that Americans vote

According to White House reports, Harris is also focused on building a broad, national coalition that includes national and state voting rights groups, business leaders, the faith community, and more – to advocate, educate, and organize to protect the right to vote.

Harris made a statement about Texas lawmakers who met with Harris recently in Washington when they sought federal involvement on protecting voting rights, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

According to the article, her meeting with the legislators in the Lone Star state came after they walked out to stop an election bill condemned for its voter suppression legislation.

Harris described the legislators as “showing courage and commitment.”

 

“I applaud their standing for the rights of all Americans and all of Texans to express their voice and their vote unencumbered,” she said at the TCF Center inside a meeting room. “I will say that they are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before them (did).”

The Vice President continues to travel the country engaging voting rights advocates and American voters about what’s at stake, including while on her recent trips to Greenville, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Harris said during the event that she and President Joe Biden are partnering with “so many others” to ensure that “we fight every day to make sure that all Americans are unencumbered are able to express their voice through the ballot and through vote.”

 

During a vaccine mobilization event, the Detroit Youth Choir energized the crowd of fewer than 100 people who gathered to hear Harris speak about the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Native Detroiter Loni Love also warmed up the hype crowd and said that she represents her city and “Cass Tech all day.”

 

She said that when she found out Harris was coming to Detroit, she had to be here.

 

“I said, ‘I’m going to go,’” Love said, adding that Harris has been on her talk show, The Real “many times” to support her, and she wants to return the favor.

 

“I want to support her; I want to support Detroit,” Love told the roused crowd, adding that she has been vaccinated. “I am still living … please if you have been vaccinated, people, tell someone else to get vaccinated. Because we are trying to get (back) to life y’all.”

 

Love added that she is not to be underestimated, and if someone would have told her that a girl from the Brewster projects in Detroit would be on stage introducing the first lady Vice President she would have said not how but “when?”

 

“Because I’m from Detroit,” she said.

 

Mayor Mike Duggan told the crowd that Detroit and Michigan were “devastated” by COVID-19.

“We were losing 50 Detroiters a day — it was hard and we had no help from the White House,” he said of the previous administration. “But Detroit led the way. We set up our testing sites — we committed to social distancing, and we had great leadership in the state of Michigan with Gov. Whitmer who fought back every step of the way.”

 

Duggan added that later on, despite the backing of the Biden-Harris administration in the White House, Detroit slowed down.

 

“We’ve fallen behind,” he said of the less-than-40 percent current vaccination rate in the city.

Lt. Governor Gilchrist delivered similar remarks and encouraged attendees to get vaccinated and tell others to do so, too.

 

Gilchrist, who has lost 27 people to COVID-19, said that “we have work to do to live up to those legacies. …When we come together, we can do anything.”

 

Resident Tamara Blue and a longtime healthcare worker said that last April, when she was diagnosed with COVID-19, she feared that she would lose her life, and vaccination is key.

“It is time for us to (show) how much we care by being vaccinated,” she said. (It is) necessary to get our power back.”

 

Harris said that Michigan is a bellwether state that reflects the concerns and priorities of the country.

 

She said in the “moments of crisis,” Detroiters showed “grace” and “dignity.”

 

“These are the things I think about,” she said. “As schools went virtual Detroit teachers went the extra miles to educate.”

 

Harris added that the TCF Center was not only a place to vote but a place to get vaccinated, too.

“Today I am joined by healthcare workers who administered vaccines,” she said. “Thank you all. Thank you on behalf of the country.”

 

Harris added that the great work has to continue when it comes to voting rights and encouraging COVID-19 vaccines.

 

“Because of your work and resilience … here we are today,” Harris said of the 160 million Americans fully vaccinated and COVID-related death rates and hospitalizations down.

 

“This is incredible progress,” Harris said, adding that there are still a lot of Detroiters not vaccinated. “We need to build on that progress, and we need to build on that progress now. … We have a whole lot more work to do.”

 

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