Democrats pitch midterm elections message to Black voters at 113th NAACP Convention

“We need to talk more about what we've done and not complain about what we haven't done,” U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told theGrio.

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As Black communities reel over what many see as a regression of once fundamental rights like voting and reproductive care, Vice President Kamala Harris stood before Black America’s oldest civil rights organization to call out “extremist” Republicans for “attempting to undermine our democracy and assault our most fundamental freedoms.” 

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the 113th NAACP Convention. (Photo: White House)

Delivering a speech at the 113th NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the vice president condemned the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to revoke the constitutional right to an abortion. 

“It’s important to note that to support a woman’s ability — not her government, but her — to make that decision does not require anyone to abandon their faith or their beliefs,” said Harris. “It just requires us to agree the government shouldn’t be making that decision for her.”

Driving her message further, the vice president said: “We know, NAACP, that our country has a history of claiming ownership over human bodies.”

Acknowledging Democrats’ handicap in their agenda to deliver for Black and brown communities due to a lack of needed votes in Congress, the vice president said bluntly, “we need two more votes in the United States Senate.” President Joe Biden made the same appeal in remarks following the high court’s ruling on abortion when he called on voters to help elect more pro-choice Democrats.

National Council of Negro Women President Dr. Thelma Thomas Daley, who attended the NAACP convention, told theGrio that when it comes to reproductive rights for women, she is “very concerned about what kind of judges [Republicans] are putting in at the state level.”

Daley said it is “very key” that civil rights organizations “protect our democracy no matter what.”

Hazel Dukes, president of NAACP’s New York chapter, told theGrio that it was an important moment for Vice President Harris to give remarks at the convention as there is uncertainty following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The court, or as Harris emphasized “the former court of Thurgood Marshall.” has also handed down rulings that have made way for more states to implement restrictive voting laws. 

“We must get out and vote [like] our life depends on it,” said Dukes. “Yes, we went out for [former President] Obama, but this time it’s just as crucial or more crucial with all of our rights being rolled back.”

Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, speaks during a press conference announcing State Senator Brian Benjamin as her Lt. Governor on August 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

All the speakers at Monday’s convention urged attendees to get out to vote in November – a message that has been a theme among Democrats, both within the Biden-Harris administration and on Capitol Hill. Democrats, hoping to avert a shellacking by Republicans, have also been working to articulate the party’s record of what they have done since taking office in January 2021.

Marcia Fudge, U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), received a standing ovation before and after her address, which emphasized the Democratic Party’s message ahead of the midterm elections.   

While Fudge acknowledged that Democrats were unable to pass long hoped-for legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and student debt cancellation, she exclaimed, “but it ain’t over.” 

Currently, President Joe Biden is standing on his call for $10,000 of student debt forgiveness for those making under $150,000.

However, NAACP’s National President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, told the crowd minutes after Fudge’s comments that “there is a squeeze” and that for the millions of Black Americans who are struggling economically, “payday time now.” Johnson said emphatically “$10,000 is not large enough.”

TheGrio caught up with Secretary Fudge after her remarks at the convention. The former U.S. congresswoman and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus said her department has worked diligently to “ensure that we would implement policies that would help those who need it the most.”

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, theGrio.com
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge speaks to the press after taking a tour of a vaccination site at Community of Hope, a community heath center, on May 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. Fudge and Becerra announced a joint-agency effort to increase access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines for disproportionately affected communities in the Unites States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I’ve worked to build a team that will help me achieve that goal,” said Fudge, noting new senior advisor on racial equity Adjoa Asamoah, who she said, “continues to utilize her experiences and expertise as a racial equity champion to develop policies and programs to help advance many of the key priorities of this administration.”

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who was also in attendance in Jersey, told theGrio that, “regrettably, the focus has been on what we haven’t done.” 

Congressman Scott pushed back against the notion that Democrats have not delivered on crucial policy, pointing out that Democrats helped “keep the economy afloat” during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the $1.9 trillion funding from American Rescue Plan. 

“School systems that needed the money got the money [and] we saved a million people’s pensions,” said Scott, adding “credit card delinquencies are the lowest rate they’ve been since the Fed has been keeping records.” 

Scott argued that Democrats “have a lot to show for what we’ve done in the last year and a half.”

“We need to talk more about what we’ve done and not complain about what we haven’t done,” he said.

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