Vice President Harris speaks at SC State Fall Convocation

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 12:24 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:41 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCSC) - Vice President Kamala Harris helped South Carolina State University welcome its largest freshman class in 15 years Tuesday.

Harris served as the keynote speaker for the university’s fall convocation.

The visit comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s address to graduates at the university’s commencement last December.

South Carolina State is one of eight historically Black colleges and universities in the state and Harris herself is an HBCU graduate, having graduated from Howard University in 1986 before heading to law school.

The upcoming mid-term election in November will be the first time many college students get the chance to vote. As Democrats are hoping to keep their majorities in Congress and score victories in important races at the state and local levels, Harris made a personal plea to students here for their support.

“Your vote is your voice, and we need your voice. We need you to move America forward,” Harris said. “Today as students, tomorrow as graduates and for the rest of your lives as Americans, you will help to determine our nation’s future.”

She encouraged this group of college students to register to vote and head to the polls. In midterm elections that typically see a smaller turnout than years when the presidency is on the ballot. But she said the races this year are no less important.

“Today we live in unsettled times,” she said. “Domestically, we thought long-settled would be the freedom of voters to decide elections. Long-settled, we thought, would be the freedom of women to make decisions about their own future.”

Harris received her biggest applause when highlighting the White House’s recent student loan forgiveness announcement and the administration’s goals to pass voting rights legislation, expand mental healthcare, and protect abortion access.

“We need to pass a law to protect a woman’s right to made decisions about her own body ... without government interference,” she said.

She also talked to students about the importance of access to education, touching on student loan debt cancellation, PELL grants, and funding HBCUs.

“Joining you this afternoon takes me back to when I was 17 and flew from California to Washington D.C. to start my first year at Howard University,” she said. “And I will always remember walking into freshman orientation to a room very much like this one. And very much like this one the seats were packed with students and faculty and alumni who just like you all look like us.”

She encouraged the incoming freshmen and all students here at SC State to find what they are passionate about and pursue it with the mentality that they can be best if they work for it.

She talked about how essential students are as future leaders, and how much she enjoys seeing the bright young faces arrive to campus.

It was Harris’ third visit to the state since she became vice president. She recently visited in June for the state Democratic Party’s Blue Palmetto Dinner. She is at least the fourth member of the Biden Administration to visit the Palmetto State since December.

In a statement released earlier today, the South Carolina Republican Party criticized that she’s visited the Palmetto State more during her vice presidency than the southern border.