In SC, Kamala Harris urges voter turnout as she stresses 'freedom is under profound threat'
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the S.C. NAACP's King Day at the Dome event in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
In a state pivotal to Democratic presidential candidates, Vice President Kamala Harris in South Carolina on Monday emphasized the risk of not voting in this year's elections — up and down the ballot.
"In 2024, where exactly is America in our fight for freedom? How we doing? Well, as vice president of the United States, I'd say at this moment in America, freedom is under profound threat," Harris said in front of the S.C. Statehouse. "Today, in fact, we are witnessing a full on attack on hard-fought and hard-won freedoms."
At a time when the resiliency of President Joe Biden's base of Black support is being questioned, Harris addressed hundreds Monday at what has historically been one of the largest gatherings of the state's Black voters, who make up the core of the state party's base.
Harris was the keynote Monday at the annual S.C. NAACP King Day at the Dome, a protest march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day that began in 2000 as a call to remove the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse dome.
As part of a compromise, the flag was lowered to another prominent position on the Statehouse grounds — this time in front of the capitol in downtown Columbia. Fifteen years later, it was removed completely after the racist mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church, an historically Black church in Charleston where Biden spoke just last week.
The event has become a go-to stop for Democratic presidential candidates to speak directly to the state's Black voters. Former speakers and attendees have included then-presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Biden.
Before Harris spoke Monday, protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and reparations were seen outside the security gates that led to the Statehouse. Law enforcement eventually pushed the protesters back down Main Street. At least one protester calling for a ceasefire tried to interrupt Harris' remarks. She was led out of the crowd and out through security gates.
Harris' attendance was not only the latest in a series of visits by the White House to the early-voting state to boost voter turnout, it also served as a reminder of the state's first-in-the-nation Democratic primary on Feb. 3.
"Let us not throw up our hands, because it's time to roll up our sleeves, and we were born for a time such as this," Harris said. "And so with faith, with hope and optimism, we will fight and when we fight, we win."