By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
Texas is not the usual campaigning spot for Democratic candidates. However, as Friday marked the last day of early voting in Texas and as the race remains tight in a historically red state, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris made her way to the metroplex for the Fort Worth Mobilization Event.
Harris is the highest-ranking individual in the Biden campaign to visit prior to Election Day. Following her visit to Fort Worth, she made her way to Houston and McAllen where she spoke with Beto O’Rourke.
During a 30-minute speech, she spoke to attendees about the power and importance of voting as well as reminded audience members what her and Joe Biden intend to do in office.
Pre-cleared individuals began filing into the field beside First Saint John Baptist Church around 11 a.m. Friday, wearing masks and required to sit in socially distanced white chairs set out around the field.
Music with lyrics of female empowerment played throughout the field prior to the event, and individuals of various ages filled the seats wearing Biden-Harris shirts and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority gear, the historically-Black sorority Harris is a member of.
An introductory video began around noon that discussed Harris’ upbringing and vision for the nation.
Rebecca Acuna, state director of the Texas Biden-Harris campaign, welcomed and introduced Harris to the crowd.
“This Dreamer stands before you as a proud American citizen who just this morning cast my first vote in a Presidential election,” Acuna said as Harris came on stage.
As the crowd silenced, Harris discussed the impact of COVID-19 and the racial disparities that come with it.
“Almost 9 million people have contracted this virus,” Harris said. “It will, by the way, at this point, most likely qualify as a pre-existing condition, which means on top of the numbers that we know, the disproportionate numbers in terms of African Americans and Latinos for high blood pressure and diabetes, we’re now looking at this.”
After discussing President Donald Trump’s handling of the virus, she then transitioned to discuss healthcare, including mental healthcare in the country.
“We have a country that has not made it a national priority for working people to have paid sick leave and paid family leave,” Harris said. “That will change in the Biden-Harris administration.”
She then discussed her desire to save the Affordable Care Act.
“Here in Texas, we’re looking at 10 million Texans who have pre-existing conditions,” Harris said. “And we now have almost 9 million people who have new pre-existing conditions called COVID.”
Harris then discussed the wealth gap in the country and said that one in eight households in Texas call themselves hungry and one in five Texans are fearful they can’t pay their rent.
She said to judge the economy and build intergenerational wealth, you have to look at how working people are doing rather than looking at the stock market.
Harris also emphasized the Biden-Harris platform of “making sure that our students that come from families that make less than $125,000 go to public universities tuition-free, including HBCUs, including private HBCUs.”
From there, she transitioned into the discussion of racial injustice.
“We need to deal with these racial disparities,” Harris said. “We need to acknowledge them, difficult though they may be to think about, much less talk about.”
She said Biden plans on addressing it by granting loans to minority businesses and getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences in prison.
“We are our strongest when we are unified,” Harris said. “We have so much more in common, regardless of where you live, the race, your ethnicity, the language your grandmother speaks.”
“We must embrace the science on this,” Harris said. “We cannot take politics on this.”
She wrapped up her speech by discussing why she feels that it is important to vote.
Harris specified three reasons. One being to “honor the ancestors” as she talked about the late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis and the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
In addition, Harris said that “everything is at stake” and labeled the act of voter suppression as another important reason to vote.
“Let us use the power of our strong voices every day,” Harris said. “In the spirit of John Lewis, in the spirit of the Suffragettes, in the spirit of the all of the generations of people here and in the future who are counting on us to know what is at stake.”
In addition, Dede McGuire of K104, one of the first women to host her own radio show in Dallas, gave a speech as she stated Harris is “changing America.”
“She’s changing dreams for little girls all over the world, black, brown, white,” McGuire said.
Grammy award winner Bishop Marvin Sapp also performed.
Harris greeted attendees on her way out and headed to Houston. She will also be making stops in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia leading up to Tuesday’s election.