Vice President Kamala Harris addresses NAACP convention in Atlantic City

This is the first time Kamala Harris addressed the NAACP National Convention as vice president.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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"The freedom to be safe from gun violence, the freedom to make decisions about our own bodies and the freedom to vote," said Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit in Atlantic City.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the NAACP National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Monday, touting the work of the Biden-Harris administration and looking ahead.

"We must repeal the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers and we must renew the assault weapons ban," said Harris.

Harris spoke about freedoms that she says are under attack and on the ballot in November. The vice president also made a stop in Philadelphia over the weekend.

"The freedom to be safe from gun violence, the freedom to make decisions about our own bodies and the freedom to vote," she said.

Many in attendance, especially young people, were excited to see the first Black female vice president take the stage.

"She's just an amazing woman who really cares about everyone including the youth," said Tiana Sirmans, 12, of New Castle, Delaware.

Many of these points resonated with convention attendees from near and far.

"She addressed the issue of standing up for women's rights and what we do with our body," said Teannia Brunson, a Temple University student.

For LaJuana Bivens of Stockton, California, who came to the convention with her granddaughter, voting rights are on her mind.

"From the state of Arkansas where I originally came from, how difficult it was for me and my parents to vote," said Bivens.

After the speech, Harris took part in a round table discussion with New Jersey lawmakers and other state leaders about reproductive rights and abortion.

"The legislators who are here today and their colleagues and others and the attorney general have been doing model work here in New Jersey," said Harris.

"We've used our regulatory authority to significantly expand access to reproductive health services including increasing the number of providers who can provide these services by 15,000," said Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin.

SEE ALSO: Vice President Kamala Harris discusses abortion rights in Philadelphia

After Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court last month, New Jersey Democratic leaders expanded abortion protections and access in the state, and funding for family planning services was increased in next year's state budget.

State Republican lawmakers have denounced these decisions, some objecting to abortions funded by taxpayer money.

During the round table, New Jersey's Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz defended the moves.

"It is sinful that it's 2022 and we're talking about this," said Ruiz. "And let's not move away from the discussion that if this impacted men specifically, would we even be having this discourse?"

On the federal level, House Democrats passed a bill Friday that would codify Roe v. Wade, which means to put into law, and protect women who travel across state lines for abortions.

Those bills are likely to fail in the Senate.

"It must be understood that on this subject, we are not asking anyone to compromise their beliefs or abandon their faith," Harris said. "We are simply saying the government should not be in the position, nor should the government have the power to replace its beliefs for those of the woman-- that's what we are saying."

New Jersey state legislatures already codified a state law back in January to protect abortion rights in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went on to sign two bills into law earlier this month to protect out-of-state residents seeking abortions.

Pennsylvania Republicans advanced a proposed constitutional amendment last week that says an abortion is not a right.

That amendment could be on the ballot for voters to decide as soon as next year.

This is the first time Kamala Harris addressed the NCAAP National Convention as vice president, as the convention was virtual the last two years because of the pandemic.

The convention continues through Wednesday.