Flint, MI—Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris toured downtown Flint on Tuesday, making it a point to visit black-owned businesses.

Her first stop was at Comma Bookstore & Social Hub. A crowd gathered across the street to see her greet several business owners, including Comma Bookstore owner Egypt Otis.

Otis said Harris commended her for starting a new business during COVID-19.

“She asked me how my experience was opening a business. And she [talked about] how much courage it took to open a business during a pandemic,” Otis said.

Part of Otis’s mission as a bookstore owner, she said, was to showcase underrepresented voices in literature.

Harris chatted briefly with Otis about the importance of businesses that promote local artists and literacy, Otis said.

“We didn’t talk about her political campaign or anything.”

In addition to owning Comma Bookstore, Otis is the field director for the Biden Campaign in Flint, so meeting Harris was exciting, she said.

“She was very relatable. She was very friendly. It felt like you were talking to a normal person,” Otis said.

Otis said Harris purchased a Black Lives Matter hoodie and the book “Oh Brother, Little Brother” by Flint Native Candid Brandon.

As Harris left Comma Bookstore, the crowd began chanting her name.

“Thank you for being such incredible leaders. This is my first trip to Michigan since I’ve been on the ticket and I wanted to come here first,” Harris said.

Some Flint locals, like Cynthia Haynes, shouted out questions. Haynes said she was hoping to learn how Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will address mass incarceration.

“My issue, that I haven’t heard yet, is her and Biden [have yet] to speak on mass incarceration. We are still dealing with mass incarceration. It’s still a form of systemic racism. What is her and Biden’s plan about it?” Haynes said.

Haynes, alongside other Flint mothers, started an organization to support parents who have incarcerated sons. “We need to empower each other,” she said.

Harris continued down Second Street to see the Flint Farmer’s Market.

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...