By Stacy M. Brown
Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday addressed the NAACP’s annual convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, declaring that freedom, liberty and democracy are on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections.
She implored the large gathering at the Atlantic City Convention Center to make sure that all voices are heard.
“We’re not going to be able to get these days back, so each one of these days we must, with a sense of urgency, ensure that the American people know their voice and their vote matters,” Harris said. “It is their voice. The right to vote is something that the leaders of this organization and its founders knew to be at the core of all of the other rights and freedoms to which we are entitled.
“So, we know what we need to do,” she said. “And, in particular, to protect the freedom to vote and a women’s right to make decisions about her own body, we need people who will defend our rights up and down the and down the ballot, from district attorneys to state attorneys general, from local sheriffs to governors.”
The vice president received several standing ovations as she spoke of the need to vote. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association representing 235 African American-owned newspapers and media companies, has teamed with the Transformative Justice Coalition in an effort to register 10 million more Black voters ahead of the midterm and 2024 general elections.
As Harris arrived in Atlantic City, Mayor Marty Small greeted her as she descended from Air Force Two.
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson spoke to the vice president and railed against politicians and the Supreme Court for “the erosion of constitutional freedom, including the right of a woman over her own body.”
Harris also decried the sharp increase in mass shootings and gun violence in the United States.
“There is no reason for weapons of war on the streets of America,” she said.
With West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin repeatedly stopping the Biden administration agenda, Harris called on voters to participate in the U.S. Senate election.
“We will not, and the president has been clear, we will not let the filibuster stand in our way of our most essential rights and freedoms,” Harris said. “I visited Buffalo, New York, to attend the funeral of an 86-year-old grandmother who went to the grocery store after, as she often did, spending the day with her husband who was in a nursing home – Mrs. Whitfield.
“I went to Highland Park, Illinois, where there were strollers and lawn chairs scattered up and down a street where there was supposed to be a parade for July Fourth,” she said. “There – as in Uvalde, Texas, as in Greenwood, Indiana, just last night; and in so many communities across our nation – scenes of ordinary life have been turned into war zones by horrific acts of gun violence.
“Mass shootings have made America a nation in mourning. And it’s not only the mass shootings. We see it in our communities every day, and it is no less tragic or outrageous.”
“Think about it: Black people are 13 percent of America’s population but make up 62 percent of gun homicide victims.
“This issue of the need for reasonable gun safety laws is a real issue when we are talking about the civil right, the right that all communities should have, to live in a place that is safe without weapons of war running those streets.”
She concluded that the number of guns manufactured in the country tripled over the past 20 years.
“Today we have more guns in our nation than people,” Harris said. “Earlier this month, the president signed the first federal gun safety law in nearly 30 years. And it was an important and necessary step. But we need to do more. We must repeal the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers. And we must renew the assault weapons ban.”