By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
During an armchair conversation with Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the country is in a state of mourning, given increasing rates of gun violence and atrocities like the shooting in Buffalo, New York which killed 10 Black people in May.
Harris made the comment after Woodfin pointed out that the Biden-Harris administration has passed laws and issued executive orders to combat recent increases in violent crime across the nation; and asked what those moves meant for mayors and other local leaders practically.
“First of all, I’ll say that I do believe, in many ways, we are a nation in mourning as a result of gun violence,” Harris replied, “… We see, whether it is a mass shooting of 20-odd people in one part of our country, or in a given city, 20 people in 20 days dying from gun violence. And we know it is something we need to address.”
Also in May, 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a small city west of San Antonio, were killed by a gunman.
Gun violence, voting rights, abortion and maternal health care were the key issues during the armchair chat between Harris and Woodfin which lasted nearly 35 minutes and was part of the National Urban League’s Annual Conference in Washington D.C.
Congress is to blame for the lack of movement on curbing gun violence from Washington, the Vice President said. “When I look at the failure of the United States Congress to have the courage to act, I think it is a call for all of us to demand action and demand that they have courage when I think particularly about the issue of assault weapons,” Harris said.
Throughout the conversation, she urged people to vote in upcoming elections if they want to be heard on issues like voting rights and women’s health care.
“Who your [district attorney] is matters. Who your secretary of state is, on voting, that matters. Who your governor is matters. Who your mayor is certainly matters. Not to mention, who are the members of Congress? There’s so much at stake,” Harris said.
Earlier this year, Harris, who took office in January 2021 following the election of President Joe Biden, and Woodfin spoke at the commencement ceremony for Tennessee State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Nashville.
This latest talk is an example of the increasing national attention on Woodfin, who was endorsed by President Biden during the mayoral election last year.
For a full transcript of the conversation, click here