Vice President Kamala Harris talks about voting rights and racism with Black Press editors

Vice President Kamala Harris had an exclusive chat with editors from the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents the Black Press of America, to discuss a variety of issues ranging from suffrage to Roe v. Wade and racism in the United States.

By Stacy M. Brown,

NNPA Newswire Correspondent,

“The Black Press has been very special,” Harris told editors in a 30-minute chat moderated by NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

“[The administration] does not expect special treatment, just fair treatment to cover achievements, because they are significant and will, in many cases, have a generational impact on families and communities,” Harris remarked.

With a record number of women of color representing the administration in various capacities, Harris asserted that “when those in office reflect those affected, we can effect change.”

“At the top, as vice-president, I am humbled and honored to hold this position,” she insisted. “I will say that I think this administration and President Joe Biden have been outstanding. For example, I recently gave a speech in South Carolina, and it was in South Carolina that then-nominee President Biden said he was going to put a black woman on the Supreme Court of the United States.

In April, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first black woman to serve on the high court.

“This president, our administration, has appointed more black women to the Federal Court than, I believe, any administration in the history of this country,” Harris said. Additionally, she noted the appointment of former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge as Housing and Urban Development Secretary.

“One of the big issues affecting our country right now is affordable housing, and one of the accomplishments of our administration is the work we’ve done on home assessments and how homes for black families are valued for less than whites,” Harris said. “We ran into this issue of biased reviews,” she added.

Harris said the administration understands the vital issue of suffrage, despite the Senate’s failure to pass the John Lewis Advancing Voting Rights Act and suppression laws that Republican-run states have passed. . She acknowledged how high voter turnout in the 2020 election and the Senate special election in Georgia in January 2021 helped catapult Democrats to the White House and control both houses of Congress.

“We need to pass a law. But short of that, we will have to continue to encourage states that do a good job around suffrage every election cycle,” Harris proposed. “If we help people understand when they showed up in record numbers in 2020, what we were able to accomplish. We need to remind people what they get when they vote; this is the reality we face, but we have to speak up and keep fighting.

The vice president noted that many states with voter suppression laws also have laws restricting other rights. “There’s an overlap that I think we should be aware of,” Harris insisted.

Additionally, Harris worried about racism within politics.

“I’m very concerned about elected officials across the country who won’t put a name to white supremacists,” Harris said. She said part of the solution lies in communities. “One of the most powerful tools is building coalitions around targeted communities, speaking out and being informed so no one is left alone,” Harris said.

“We know we have more in common than what separates us, but part of that has to do with people spitting things online and elsewhere that aren’t facts.” Harris continued, “I believe in many ways [students] enter an increasingly unstable world. The things we took for granted as settled are not settled.

“Foreign policy, the concept of sovereignty of a nation and its territorial integrity, the right not to be invaded by force… and you see what happened in Ukraine. For 70 years, Europe was without war, and now it is war.

“At the national level, 70 years ago, we thought that voting rights were settled. Shelbyv. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, and now we see laws sprouting up across the country barring people from receiving food and water if they line up to vote. A woman’s ability to decide about her own body is unstable.

“We are not asking anyone to change their beliefs; just let everyone have what they believe and don’t let the government tell them what to do.

Harris concluded by sharing her planned Juneteenth celebration.

She said she would open the Vice President’s official residence, not to celebrities or politicians, but to families and individuals from various neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

“When you look at the hate epidemic, all it says is that we as leaders need to make sure we use our platform,” Harris said. “We must speak the truth and speak with the spirit of trying to unify our communities.”

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