She blasted voting laws passed in Georgia that she told students “are intentionally trying to make it more difficult for you to vote.”
Harris added: “There are others who are suggesting that your vote doesn’t matter or it won’t count.”
And then said: “You cannot let them win.”
The vice president received a rousing welcome as she stepped in front of hundreds of students enrolled at Morehouse and surrounding schools within the Atlanta University Center. Many students had lined up outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel an hour or so before the doors opened and then waited more than three hours to hear her speak.
They passed the time singing along to a DJ playlist full of old-school hip hop classics and music from Morehouse’s House of Funk Marching Band. The energy turned the event into part pep-rally, part dance-party before Harris arrived.
“I think that the issues she’s talking about like voting and education is really, really important,” said Marchellos Scott II, a Morehouse junior. “Young people deserve the right to be a part of legislation or policies that will affect their education overall.”
Melanie De La Rosa, a senior at Spelman College, appreciated the visit. De La Rosa is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s first Black sorority, which Harris joined while a student at Howard University.
“Vice President Harris’ presence in the AUC resonates deeply with the importance of our nation’s HBCUs,” De La Rosa said before the event.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona were among officials who spoke briefly before the vice president.
Warnock hit on themes later echoed by Harris, telling the young crowd that “We are witnessing an assault on our democracy,” urging them to not date anyone who isn’t a registered voter.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also touted the importance of voting. But Dickens’ short remarks were met with boos from the audience, prompting an emcee to ask the crowd to show respect to elected officials. Dickens has received criticism from some students and Morehouse faculty opposed to the city’s planned construction of a public safety training center.
Harris is the first woman and the first Black and South Asian American to be elected vice president. She graduated from Howard University, the HBCU in Washington, D.C., in 1986.
Her visit to Morehouse was the fifth stop in a nationwide tour of colleges, including historically Black and Hispanic-serving schools. The itinerary also includes state schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs.