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Flint, MI—On National Voter Registration Day, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris came to Flint.
She visited various businesses and walked through downtown until she arrived at the Flint Farmers Market where she was greeted by hundreds of Flint residents chanting her name–including some of her sorority sisters.
The Democratic Vice Presidential nominee is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), the first African-American sorority. Her sisters, dressed in pink and green, said they are proud to be a part of the same organization as Harris.
“Not only do you have Senator Harris who is a phenomenal leader, we have so many other women that are a part of our organization that really heighten our brand and what we do in the community,” said AKA’s Great Lakes Regional Director Carrie J. Clark. “It’s always an honor to see some of our members excel in achieving their dreams.”
Harris was the second Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and is now the first Black woman to be nominated for national office by a major party. She is the fourth woman in the country’s history to be chosen for a presidential ticket.
Her AKA sorority sisters were waiting outside of the market for more than an hour before Harris’ arrival.
Harris landed at Bishop International Airport at 11:40 a.m. and met with Former Mayor Karen Weaver to discuss some of the challenges Flint is still facing.
“It was wonderful to talk to her. She genuinely seems concerned and cares,” Weaver said. “ We need a friend in the White House making sure Flint is taken care of and that’s exactly why she’s here.”
Weaver said they discussed COVID-19, the water crisis and reestablishing trust with the government, and that more communication is to come.
“When she becomes vice president, it will be important for her to have this information so she can speak up about Flint, be confident and speak loud,” she said. “Flint’s story needs to stay out there. Flint has not been made whole yet.”
After their conversation, Harris made her way to Comma Bookstore & Social Hub and other Flint businesses downtown.
She arrived at the market about two hours later and told the crowd of residents chanting her name that she would hug them if it weren’t for the pandemic.
While there, Harris walked through the market’s outdoor produce stands and purchased two ears of corn from Maria’s Garden & Farm Market and jalapeños from Winter Fresh Produce.
She also spoke to Michigan residents like Claudia Cooper and her grandfather Gersh Cooper.
Claudia teared up after speaking with Harris and said her presence was welcome in a time where “everyone’s a little concerned.”
“Seeing a strong powerful woman means a lot to a lot of people, I think women especially,” Claudia Cooper said. “My grandpa sat on the Michigan Hospital Association Board and so seeing someone who cares about peoples’ health as much as I think she does is really heartwarming.”
Mayor Sheldon Neeley also spoke with Harris about providing essential services inside the city of Flint and the census. He said it was really refreshing to see her in downtown Flint, but also to see an energized crowd of people.
Although Neeley is a non-partisan mayor, he endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the presidential ticket.
“We know we have a lot of disparities in our country…but with this ticket, I think they’re talking about inclusion more and how to stand together as one nation,” Neeley said.
Pastor Martin said he and his whole family would also be voting for Biden and Harris, but warned her in their conversation about the potential of losing the Christian vote.
“We don’t support homosexuality, same-sex marriage or abortion,” Martin said. “The party needs to come to the middle and not stray so far left, because they need Christians to support the party.”
Martin said her visit showed commitment to the city.
“It’s a majority African-American city. Biden was here in March, now she’s here,” he said. “They understand the importance that Flint will play in this massive election.”
Clark said she hoped Harris’ visit to Flint would inspire her to help the city.
“For her to come here and see the conditions of what Flint has been going through, she’ll probably have a new focus and Flint will be one of her purposes,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a symbolic visit…and if she is elected, I’m hoping that she would do something to make a change.”
(Flint Beat reporter Santiago Ochoa contributed to this story.)