U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta Friday as part of a larger “We Can Do This” tour encouraging people to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. She arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Friday morning, greeted by Georgia’s two newly elected Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, as well Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D-GA) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Harris and President Joe Biden visited the state many times in the lead-up to the presidential election in November and runoff in January, with Harris remarking upon landing that it was good to be back in the state.
Harris then went to the first of three events, visiting a vaccination site at Warnock’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. She told those getting vaccinated at the site, “What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love.”
The trip was a part of a tour by the vice president and other members of the executive leadership, including First Lady Jill Biden, to encourage vaccines through community activism. The president previously set a goal of having 70 percent of Americans with at least one shot by July 4, although only 54 percent have received at least one dose so far.
Those hesitant to take the vaccine are keeping the administration from reaching its goals and helping to prevent the spread of COVID among Americans. Harris said at the Ebenezer event, “We still have so many people who aren’t really saying ‘I don’t want to get it,’ but they’re just like trying to figure out how to make it work or ‘I’m not sure.’ So we’ve got to get the word out and one of the most important ways that we can get the word out is friend to friend, family member to family member, neighbor to neighbor. “And that’s why I wanted to talk to you, to say please help us get the word out.” From the historic church, Harris went to Clark Atlanta University for a rally to support vaccinations as well as a discussion with voting rights leaders. Before giving her remarks, students and politicians spoke about the need to combat COVID-19 through vaccinations, and community outreach to encourage it. Ossoff, Georgia’s Jewish senator, spoke about the importance of getting vaccinated, especially for those communities of color hit especially hard by the pandemic, and encouraged those who have yet to receive the vaccine to do so, stressing, “Now is the time to get vaccinated.”
Warnock spoke about a funeral he conducted through Zoom early on during the pandemic, and how hard it was on the family at the time. “I stood with families as they wept over the loss of their loved ones, and grieved even more deeply because they couldn’t be with them in their last hours.”
Harris began her speech by acknowledging the importance of HBCUs (Historically Black College and Universities), many of which had students in attendance, and the work that students can do to encourage others to receive the vaccine. She spoke about Georgia’s vaccination record, which is lagging behind the country at only 42 percent. “We can do better. And we have to address the legitimate barriers that stand in the way of some folks getting the vaccines. We have to be clear-eyed and speak the truth. … That’s where you students come in, she said, as you canvass in your community.”
Harris highlighted the work being done to ease access to the vaccines, from employers offering financial incentives and a day off to rideshare companies offering free rides to vaccination sites. She also highlighted the importance of combatting misinformation about the vaccine. “Let’s arm ourselves with the truth to arm them with the truth,” she said. “The vaccines are safe, they are free, and they are effective.”
Shenita Binns, a human rights activist, attended the rally with her 8-year-old daughter Ysrael. Shenita chatted with the AJT about attending the rally and seeing the vice president back in Georgia. “Coming back to Georgia signifies her appreciation and reaffirms her dedication to upholding her position as VP to engage and uplift our communities and help make the world a better place. I thought the rally was quite amazing and offered information that I had not heard of before, such as the daycare facilities offering free childcare during the administration of the vaccine and the aftercare.”
After concluding her remarks, Harris greeted members of the crowd and took selfies, talking with some younger folks about their hopes and dreams for the future. Before leaving for the airport, she had a closed discussion on voting rights with voting rights leaders and then headed to the Atlanta airport to return to Washington, D.C.
- Nathan Posner
- U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris
- Atlanta COVID-19 vaccination
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- Jon Ossoff
- Rev. Raphael Warnock
- President Joe Biden
- Ebenezer Baptist Church
- First Lady Jill Biden
- July 4
- Clark Atlanta University
- voting rights leaders
- HBCUs (Historically Black College and Universities)
- Shenita Binns
- Ysrael Binns
- Washington DC
- Congresswoman Nikema Williams
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms