Kamala Harris Brenda Lawrence Black women Michigan voters
Sen. Kamala Harris virtually visited Detroit for a conversation with Rep. Brenda Lawrence on the first stop of her Vice Presidential campaign.

Black women from across metro Detroit to talk breaking barriers, Joe Biden, and building back better than ever. Here’s why.

DETROIT, MI — Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris hosted her first, solo virtual event for her campaign on Wednesday and it all started in Detroit. 

“Detroit is a big part of America’s history,” Harris said of her decision to choose the Motor City for her first campaign stop. “The hundreds of thousands of Black folks who helped to build Detroit to its greatness, but also the majority Black residents of today who are facing some of the greatest economic, educational disparities that we’ve seen.”

Wednesday’s virtual call featured a conversation between Harris and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-14). Several other women of color active with the Michigan Democrats were also on hand to speak to the strength of the Biden-Harris team.

“The addition of the first woman of color on a ticket is such a big deal for so many of us, particularly for women who look like me,” Michigan Democratic Party chair Lavora Barnes told The ‘Gander. 

Barnes and Harris each have experiences of breaking glass ceilings. The former, as Michigan’s first person of color (of any gender) to serve as state party chair. The latter, as the first woman of color nominated by a major party to the Vice Presidency.

“And the fact that she’s a terrific United States Senator with such a great background, who’s ready to lead us with Joe Biden out of the mess that President Trump has left us in…I’m excited.”

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Speaking to the Base

Over the years, Black women have anecdotally been called the “backbone of the Democratic party.”

“We’ve heard it over and over again, Barnes said, “We [Black women] donate to campaigns, we register voters, we knock the doors, we make the phone calls, and vote at the highest rates of any demographic work.”

In 2018, they were more likely than women in any other racial or ethnic group to support Democratic House candidates, according to AP VoteCast, which surveyed more than 115,000 voters nationwide, including close to 7,000 Black women, making it one of the most in-depth available looks at the group’s political views.

But that doesn’t mean Black women are “typical” Democrats.

An AP analysis of the VoteCast data reveals that Black women’s views often stand out as more moderate than the rest of the party.

Black women are less likely to identify as liberal, somewhat less likely to support abortion rights, far less concerned about climate change and somewhat more likely to prioritize jobs and the economy. They are also more protective of President Barack Obama’s policies and legacy.

Lawrence said she didn’t hesitate to endorse Harris’ run for the presidency, and that she did a “hallelujah dance” of joy when the California senator was announced as the 2020 VP pick.

“Joe Biden saw in her all the amazing things that I know and trust her to do for our country,” Lawrence said. 

Harris said what the country needs most is for all voters to act.

“Right now, America needs action. In the middle of a pandemic, the President is trying to rip away healthcare. While small businesses close, he’s giving tax breaks to his wealthy donors. And when people cried out for help, he tear gassed them.”

“I know Joe Biden is a man of faith, decency, and character. As Joe says, we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation, but first, we have to take action.”

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Leadership Willing to Work With Michigan

The Biden-Harris ticket says it promises to be one for all Americans, even those who do not vote for them, according to Biden himself at the conclusion of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The tone is a marked difference from the current presidential administration that speaks to its own base, but often disregards anyone else.

Plus, Biden is no stranger to Michigan, making dozens of visits on the 2020 campaign trail and even more during his eight-year tenure as second-in-command during the Obama Administration.

“We’d see him so much that we started to joke that he was from Michigan,” Barnes said of Biden’s frequent trips. “He’s a Michigander, at least, in heart.”

Biden announced the California congresswoman as his running mate Aug. 11. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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