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Vice President Kamala Harris Encourages FIU Students to Cast Their Votes in 2024

MIAMI — Amid polls showing concerns about her boss’s age, Vice President Kamala Harris ventured to a Republican stronghold in Miami-Dade County to ask the youngest of voters to forged ballots and interact within the political process.

“Not only is it an extension of your ability to make a difference, not only is it about you expressing your voice in the numerous ways you may but additionally understand what you are up against when it comes to some folks that are scared if you exercise your voice, and due to this fact attempt to make it harder so that you can vote,” Harris said during a 45-minute moderated discussion at Florida International University on Thursday afternoon.

The state university is within the county’s western suburbs which can be predominantly GOP communities, and largely populated by Cuban-American voters. It’s the second time in two months that Harris has visited the Sunshine State. She was in Jacksonville in July.

Harris criticizes DeSantis:

Harris slams DeSantis over African American history standard, ‘an try to gaslight us’

During that visit, Harris took Gov. Ron DeSantis to task over changes in the best way the state teaches Black history, particularly slavery. A subject that had DeSantis still on the defensive in Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate in California.

But speaking at FIU, Harris made her pitch to students and young voters, some who recently turned 18, by discussing issues like gun control, abortion, and the environment.

“So we’re up for the challenge and we won’t allow anybody to silence us, and voting is one technique to ensure that you simply reduce those numbers who are attempting to just do that,” the vice chairman said, later referencing rules in Florida she said make it harder for ex-felons to vote.

Harris said she understands the America wherein the electorate’s youngest participants have grown up in — going to high school in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing the death of George Floyd that sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and regular school shooting drills, to which she referenced the Parkland highschool and Pulse nightclub shootings in Florida.

“I feel that your generation is one of the crucial spectacular, special that we’ve got seen in a protracted time,” Harris said. “What I also learn about you as leaders, at this particular moment in time, is you should not sitting around waiting for other people to get this right. You’re ready to steer.”

Republican victories in 2022:

A political shift in blue Palm Beach County? A historic reddening is happening

Abortion, gun control, environment are leading issues amongst Florida Generation Z voters

Harris’ talk before 1,500 students was moderated by rapper Fat Joe and “Hamilton” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” actor Anthony Ramos. Her visit was a component of a nationwide college tour as a part of President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign to lift participation amongst young voters.

Students chosen by the moderators posed questions on how the Biden administration would support minority communities, abortion rights, and environmental issues like climate change.

Lauren Waldon, 18, said hearing the vice chairman say she cared about abortion rights, gun control, and climate change meant lots to her.

Waldon, a freshman majoring in psychology, said she has grown up within the era of faculty shooting preparation drills and volunteering at beach cleanups along with her mother. Sensing fear in school and seeing how the climate crisis is evolving, Waldon now says she desires to do her part by voting.

“Now, I can actually vote,” Waldon said. “I will probably be voting for someone I feel should run this country with other people in mind, with everybody in mind.”

A pivotal point that drew approval from the group was when Harris said women mustn’t be told that “they do not have the authority to determine what happens to their body.”

“On this state, they only did a six-week ban. That tells me that plenty of these folks don’t even understand how women’s bodies work,” Harris said, drawing strong cheers from the group. “Most of them don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks, come on.”

Ciera Jean, an 18-year-old hospitality freshman, identified that LGBTQ+ rights were essential to her, and she or he registered as a Democrat because she believes Republicans weren’t “supportive” of this community or respectful of abortion rights.

“She was pretty very similar to, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, your gender, your sexuality. That was like really essential to me,” Jean said of Harris.

Yet 2024 won’t be Brandon Santos’ first time voting. Santos, 23, said he cared mostly about human rights issues, specifically immigration, and the climate crisis.

“That is our only planet, that is our only home,” Santos said. “We should always maintain it.”

Knowing the group, knowing FIU, and talking diversity

Harris identified that she knew she was talking to a various group of scholars since Miami is home to a various Hispanic population, including Cubans, Venezuelans, and Colombians. And FIU is recognized for bestowing nation-leading numbers of graduate degrees to Hispanic students.

FIU’s growing population:

3 Florida universities are among the many nation’s 10 largest. Are you able to guess which?

Harris is not any stranger to diversity, as she identified. She is the primary female vice chairman of the USA, also the primary African-American and first Asian-American vice chairman.

That is why she told students that it is important to acknowledge that even should you’re in a room where no one “looks such as you,” that you simply’re not alone, she said.

“Once I take a look at these attempts to attack DEI — diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Harris said. “Let’s be really clear what they’re as much as. They’re attempting to say that that is a foul word, that’s a foul phrase.

That was a shot at DeSantis and Republican lawmakers who made the removal of DEI programs and policies in Florida state colleges and universities a key battleground of their so-called “war on woke.”

“They’re attempting to turn it against individuals who understand exactly why it will be important to deal with and be alert and awake to what is occurring and to talk truthfully about it, with the goal only of solutions which can be based in equity and fairness,” Harris said.

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