ICYMI: Vice President Kamala Harris and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison Condemn SCOTUS Rulings at Essence Fest Against Affirmative Action, Reproductive Freedom, and Student Loan Forgiveness
July 5, 2023
Just this past weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison took center stage at Essence Fest to spotlight critical issues, such as reproductive rights, affirmative action, and voting rights to motivate voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election. On Friday, Chair Harrison participated in a panel discussion on the Global Black Economic Forum main stage entitled: “How Voting and Policy Shifts Aid in Building Black Wealth and Power.” Friday night, Vice President Harris delivered the keynote address for the Global Black Economic Forum during a conversation on “Fighting for Reproductive Freedom” with Sunny Hostin and Monica Simpson.
The DNC also partnered with the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to host a booth in the Community Center of the Essence Festival of Culture, where we were able to engage and mobilize thousands of Black voters.
See excerpts of coverage below:
Essence: VP Kamala Harris Calls Out States Attacking Both Abortion And Voting Rights At ESSENCE Fest
By Bry’onna Mention
- Palmer and Harris then addressed the large GOP elephant in the room: abortion rights. It couldn’t be lost on the two, that while at ESSENCE Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana, the state was one of the 13 “trigger ban” states that instantly banned all abortions once Roe was overturned. Meaning, while in the state of Louisiana, not even the Vice President of the United States had reproductive rights or autonomy over her own body.
- The vice president shared that she had learned of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade while she was in Aurora, Illinois with democratic Representative Lauren Underwood, to highlight maternal health care issues.
- Harris noted that Black women’s right to choose is literally a matter of life and death. She said “Black women are three times likely to die during childbirth, while Indigenous women are twice as likely to die during childbirth.” She also cited that the United States was among one of the worst nations globally for women’s maternal health.
- Harris told Palmer, “I did an analysis of the states that are attacking a woman’s right to choose and the states that are attacking voting rights, and there is an interesting intersection. At least 11 states are doing both at the same time.”
- She paraphrased Civil Rights leader Coretta Scott King, stating the fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation.
Essence: EFOC: Vice President Kamala Harris Criticizes SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision, Says Colorblindness Is Being “Blind To History”
By Malaika Jabali
- NEW ORLEANS- Vice President Kamala Harris joined the ESSENCE Festival of Culture in a fireside chat speaking out against the Supreme Court for ending Affirmative Action at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) on Thursday.
- “I prepared to have a very long conversation with you about many other matters,” the Vice President opened, hours after the Supreme Court decision. “And then the highest court in our land just made a decision today on Affirmative Action, and I feel compelled to speak about it. And I’m sure that I share the sentiment and the feeling of everyone in this room in terms of deep disappointment.”
- Before a packed audience, Harris noted that “the court has not fully understood the importance of equal opportunity for the people of our country. And it is in so many ways a denial of opportunity.”
- Harris also compelled the audience to read the dissenting opinion of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
- “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat,” Jackson wrote in the dissent. “But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the Court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems.”
- Echoing Justice Jackson, Vice President Harris pushed back against conservative calls that the case was about “colorblindness.”
- “It is a complete misnomer to suggest this is about colorblind[ness] when in fact it is about being blind to history, being blind to data, being blind to empirical evidence about disparities, being blind to the strength that diversity brings to classrooms, to boardrooms,” she told the audience.
Essence: EFOC: ‘We Are Not Going To Step Back’. Political Experts Weigh In On Building Black Wealth And Power Through Voting And Policy
By Melissa Noel
- “I wasn’t shocked by this court. We have seen this court, the Roberts Court, the legacy of this Roberts Court is going to be one where we have less freedom, less rights, and more discrimination,” said Harrison, who shared that he was the first in his family to go college and how it help transform not only his life but theirs as well.
- “What you are seeing right now with this court is that they didn’t talk about the legacy of the third and fourth generations of people who went on to college, and their parents had been to college, and they got into that college because of that. They didn’t talk about the wealth and people just writing a check to get their sons and daughters into university. They looked at the experience of Black folks trying to make an in to try to do better, to try to live the American dream, and they uprooted all of that,” Harrison noted.
- The DNC Chair also called out the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. The conversation moderated by political strategist and commentator Symone Sanders-Townsend was a central part of the GBEF programming, which brings together global leaders, policymakers, activists, and celebrities to advance equity for the Black community and other marginalized groups.
See photos of the DNC, CBCPAC, DSCC, and DCCC booth at Essence Fest: