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Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, sits down with some of the state's most prominent Latinx leaders in PA in Taller Puertorriqueño during her visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 18. Photo: Ericka Conant/AL DÍA News.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, sits down with some of the state's most prominent Latinx leaders in PA in Taller Puertorriqueño during her visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 17. Photo: Ericka Conant/AL DÍA News.

Kamala Harris comes to Philly, makes a push for Black, Latinx voters

Harris made key stops around the city, visiting Black owned-businesses and took part in a Latinx roundtable.

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Just two days after President Donald Trump visited Philadelphia for a town hall, Sen. Kamala Harris made her own visit to the city on Sept. 17, her first ever stop in Pennsylvania since Joe Biden announced her as his running mate.

Biden is making a simultaneous stop in Pennsylvania, but in his hometown of Scranton.

Harris’ plane touched down shortly after 10:00 a.m., and promptly began a drive to North Philadelphia. In West Oak Lane, Harris met with Rep. Dwight Evans (PA- 03), Vice Chair of the Small Business Committee.

The pair walked down the sidewalk of Ogontz Ave. visiting an array of Black-owned businesses, including Beale’s Florist — a Black-owned business since 1971, and the well-known Philly Election Day spot for local politicians, Relish, where she dined.

Harris greeted people with, “smiling eyes,” as she described, addressing the crowd as best as she could while wearing a mask.

At one point, a crowd across the street called for her attention, “Kamala!” they cried, to which she called back, “Make sure to vote!”

That is, after all, the mission at hand. 

With a Black population of over 90%, the West Oak Lane visit — and the visit to Philly overall — serves to further the Biden-Harris appeal to Black and BIPOC voters. 

Harris is currently the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate, a sobering fact she made clear at her stop at a “She Can Win” event, hosted in a typical Philly backyard where she answered questions posed by prominent Black women leaders in the region.

Harris outlined plans for issues dear to BIPOC communities and young voters, touching on a comprehensive plan to eradicate the health inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19, and support the Black Lives Matter Movement and police reform.

There, Harris made an appeal, not just to Black women, but Black men, who statistically don’t show up to the polls in numbers comparable to their female counterparts.

This same trend is shared by the second demographic Harris made strides to connect with on her visit: the Latinx community.

Pennsylvania has a large Latinx population, and it has only been strengthened in recent years. This is largely because of its Puerto Rican demographic, which has recently grown due to migration following Hurricanes Maria and Irma as well as an onslaught of earthquakes to hit Puerto Rico at the top of 2020.

Specifically, Latinx voters will have a critical role to play in deciding our next president. We are often called a “sleeping giant” of a voting bloc, but the truth is politicians have been sleeping on us. 

If the top leaders in the United States would have conversations, and conducted outreach centering on the Latinx community outside of an election cycle, perhaps the sentiments would be different.

This year the Latinx demographic is set to be the largest non-white voting demographic eligible to hit the polls. The emphasis comes amid a year ridden with voter suppression, disproportionate — more than any other demographic — COVID-19 cases and deaths, and the risk of a Census undercount.

A new poll also found a large majority of Latinx households, 72%, are facing serious financial problems due to the pandemic, compared to 60% of Black households and 55% of Native American households.

At 47 days until the general election, Sen. Harris met with Philly’s Latinx leaders and elected officials, to join a community conversation on the issues at hand.

The roundtable comes just days after Biden for President Pennsylvania announced the formation of a Latino Leadership Council, featuring some of the states most prominent Latinx leaders.

Harris’ campaign arrived in Kensington to greet Carmen Febo-San Miguel, the Executive Director of Taller Puertorriqueño and its Chairwoman Elena Maria DiLapi.

On the steps leading up to Taller, Harris addressed onlookers that asked how she would appeal to the Latinx vote.

“By earning it, “ Harris began, proceeding to briefly outline plans the Biden-Harris has in place to uplift the Latinx community, ranging from healthcare amid COVID-19, education, and jobs.

The sheer fact that Harris is visiting a Puerto Rican nonprofit, in a largely Puerto Rican neighborhood indicated there is some knowledge within the Biden-Harris campaign, that at least in Philadelphia, Latinx individuals are not a monolith in their eyes.

The Latinx leaders present at the roundtable were Christine M. Tartaglione, PA State Senator (PA-02), Danilo Burgos, PA State Representative (PA-197), Angel Cruz, PA State Representative (PA-180), and María Quiñones-Sánchez, Philadelphia City Councilmember from the 7th District.

Harris focused the Latino discussion on Puerto Rico. Namely, the lack of aid from the Trump administration following natural disasters, and respecting the nationality decisions for the island moving forwards.

“It is inexcusable, the way the current administration, the Trump administration, has treated Puerto Rico,” Harris said.

“We are aware of the disparities and the inequities highlighted and exasperated by a Trump administration. It will be our intention as an administration, to address those inequities, in a way that is reflective of what we say we are, which is a democracy,” she continued.

Kamala Harris got to see Philadelphia today. For hours, she traveled the Philly streets, visiting neighborhoods that don’t often get the outreach it deserves. Not just for visibility, but for the potential Vice President of this country to see first-hand the policies the Biden-Harris Campaign is promising.

Forty-Seven days out, we shall see if this late surge of Black and Latinx outreach will carry on past Election Day.

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