Amid 2024 re-election bid Vice President Kamala Harris advocates for women’s rights at rally for reproductive freedom. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press Nathan Howard)

By Ashleigh Fields,
AFRO Assistant Editor

President Joe Biden announced his 2024 re-election bid on April 25 with Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate. Throughout their time in office, the pair has been focused on foreign relations, abortion rights and reducing hate crime.

“Every generation has a moment where they have had to stand up for democracy. To stand up for their fundamental freedoms. I believe this is ours,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I’m running for reelection as President of the United States. Join us. Let’s finish the job.”

A day later Harris spoke inside of the Cramton Auditorium on the campus of Howard University, highlighting right-wing efforts to ban abortions as a national agenda. Harris vowed that she would do everything in her power to combat, and reiterated that this next election cycle will specifically impact women— after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, meaning millions of Americans lost their constitutional right to an abortion. 

“These extremist, so-called leaders dare to tell us what is in our own best interest. Well I say, I trust the women of America. I trust the people of America,” said Harris with passionate fervor. “They’re also saying they’re going to ban abortion six weeks into a pregnancy. Well, clearly most of them don’t even know how a woman’s body works, because most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that stage of a pregnancy,” exclaimed Harris, as she unexpectedly went off script. Behind her more than 50 students and advocates stood toting signs in support of reproductive freedom. 

The vice president’s care and connection to the crowd was clear as she spoke moments after her younger sorority sister, Brittney House, also of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Alpha Chapter, divulged a very personal abortion story. 

“In 2012, I had recently graduated from Howard University and found out I was pregnant. At age 21, making $50,000 a year, I wouldn’t be able to support myself and a child,” said House. “He would eventually become abusive — something I shouldn’t have to reveal to have my choice respected by politicians or other strangers. All of these factors go into family planning.”

The event was widely attended by various organizations including the non-profit NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Speaker Laphonza Butler, who serves as the president of Emily’s List, an American political action committee for women, emotionally recalled June 24, 2022. That was the day the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which struck down the federal right to an abortion. Butler said she had just dropped her 8-year-old daughter off at summer camp.

“I remember feeling deeply that my daughter was going to come home less free than when I dropped her off,” said Butler.

One by one, various women shared heart-wrenching statistics and stories about abortion.

“We’re not going to hear the stories on the news. We’re not going to see stories of people telling them with the frequency that they’re occurring on Tik tok. We’re not—but it’s real,” said Harris, acknowledging how abortion advocates have been using the social media platform to share their experiences and opinions. 

Harris concluded by evoking an empathetic stance on the issue. She emphasized that one does not have to abandon in their faith or personal beliefs to agree that the government should not infringe on a woman’s autonomy. Her speech ended with a courageous invitation for supporters to join in her efforts to secure a woman’s right to choose.

“When you love something you fight for it. We will fight for the ideals of our country because we know there is too much at stake. Let us stand and fight, Howard,” said Harris.