On Friday, Oct. 23, a mere 11 days before the American public officially casts its votes for the next occupant of The White House, Democratic candidate for Vice President Kamala Harris’s private jet touched down on the tarmac at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

It would not be the first time that the junior US Senator from California would make her way to the peach state during this election cycle.

It was, however, the first time she returned in her history-making capacity as the first Black woman and the first South Asian candidate for vice president of a major party.

Among a pool of nearly 15 other national and regional journalists, The Atlanta Voice was able to spend the day with the senator, following her stops along the campaign trail, beginning with a short briefing at the foot of the stairs of the private jet she’d flown in on.

Around 11:15 a.m., Harris stepped off the private jet and briefed the pool with her thoughts on the second — and final — presidential debate. Harris’s running mate, former Vice President Joe Biden, and the current President Donald Trump faced off the previous night in a much tamer debate moderated by Kristen Welker at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Adorned in a tailored black suit with a rust-patterned blouse and matching black mask, Harris then answered two additional questions from the pool before being whisked away to her motorcade.

A notable aide for Biden would accompany Harris as she made her stops around Metro Atlanta. Symone D. Sanders, 30, is a top strategist for the Biden campaign. Sanders is also the youngest and highest-ranking African-American working in the campaign’s inner circle.

It’s no secret around Washington that Sanders shares a close relationship with Harris’s sister and former campaign manager Maya Harris. Sanders has also publicly defended the senator from attacks on her record as a prosecutor.

The 2020 Democratic primary season paralleled Homer’s Odyssey as the candidates clamored to gain long-sought-after retribution from the unexpected Democratic defeat of Hillary Clinton to Donald J. Trump in the 2016 General Election.

Harris was among a total of 29 major candidates who had declared their candidacies for the primaries, making it the largest field of presidential candidates for any American political party since 1972.

While Harris ended her campaign bid in December, well before the primary elections began in February, her performance in the debates elevated her profile as an emerging Democrat to watch. It was specifically an attack against the former vice president over race relations and school busing in a June 2019 debate that activated her base and gained her newfound support within the party.

Biden himself said he felt “taken off guard” by the attack, especially after Harris and his late son Beau Biden shared history as friends and political allies. They served concurrently as attorneys general, Harris as California’s and the late Biden as Delaware’s.

“Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” Harris has said of her relationship with the younger Biden in various interviews. “We had each other’s backs.”

On June 5, Biden announced via Twitter that he’d won the 1,991 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. Shortly after his nomination, Biden told news outlets that he intended on selecting a woman as his running mate.

A number of veep shortlists emerged, with Georgia’s Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Stacey Abrams, alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Harris comfortably vetted as the frontrunners. After a summer of speculation, Biden would formally choose Harris as his running mate on Aug. 11.

“I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021,” Biden said then.


Around noon on Friday, Harris’s motorcade arrived at The Gathering Spot, a popular co-working space and private social club for Atlanta’s Black movers and shakers, just west of downtown. Harris hosted a virtual fundraiser and later a town hall with students currently attending Atlanta-area historically Black colleges and universities.

Lastly, Harris stopped by a “Shop Talk” roundtable featuring a spate of national Black surrogates. Led by Tharon Johnson, Harris met with The Gathering Spot co-founder Ryan Wilson, business owner and activist Issac Hayes III, producer Bryan Michael Cox, plus record executives Chaka Zulu and Jermaine Dupri.

Dupri highlighted the sharp critiques of her career as a prosecutor that have been discussed ad nauseam within the Black community and within the pages of this publication. He went on to say, “I don’t know if a lot of my friends have actually heard you say enough about this to convince them, or whether they need to be convinced.”

“Mm-hmm,” Harris said with a smile. “I’m glad you brought it up, because also, you have to know that the other side is spinnin’ it.”

“Donald Trump has this goal to turn 20 percent of Black men out in favor of him,” Harris said, and later deconstructed Trump’s talking points. “Yes, I was a prosecutor. I decided to go in a system that I knew was flawed, to reform it. So yes, I decided to go up the rough side of the mountain, as we say in church. And I didn’t fix the entire system.”

Harris went on to say while describing some of her progressive work as a prosecutor.

“But the concern that I have about the theory, if you will, is that it suggests Black people shouldn’t be prosecutors. It suggests that you don’t love your community or want to reform the system because you’ve decided to go in it,” Harris later continued.

Harris also warned the Black men in the room and those watching the live stream that they’re “supposed to vote for us.” It was a stirring comment considering there is a small, yet vocal minority of Black men who hold Harris in disrepute.

The gender gap is real in the Black community. In 2016, Trump received 14 percent of the Black male vote. The Black men deriding Harris routinely shout the double-entendre of “Locking up the Black vote,” while making reference to her tenures as district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.

Also, Harris’s marriage to Caucasian pharmaceutical executive Doug Emhoff has drawn criticism from that segment of Black men.

Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, the leader of the 2 Live Crew, and currently an important player in Florida politics, wrote in 2019, “For better or worse, Black men don’t want to vote for a Black woman who married a white man.”

After setting up a meeting with Uncle Luke, Harris and Campbell ironed out their issues. Campbell would end up supporting the senator from California.

“I’m not going to tell anybody, including Black men, that they’re supposed to vote for us. We need to earn that vote,” Harris said during the “Shop Talk” roundtable.

Harris was then rushed off to a 3:45 p.m. meeting with Tracy Gates, the owner of the iconic Busy Bee Cafe on Martin Luther King Jr Avenue in the heart of historic West End.

Among a quickly growing crowd of supporters and residents, Harris took a moment to pose for photos. However, due to timing restraints, the senator was not able to sample the cafeteria’s world-famous fried chicken or soul food sides.


The motorcade then headed toward a small and intimate drive-in rally hosted at Morehouse College. Harris was then joined by State Representatives Dar’Shun Kendrick and Karen Bennett, as well as the Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams.

Like Harris, all of the aforementioned legislators are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the oldest Black Greek-lettered organization. At 1,026 chapters and nearly 300,000 members, the century-old organization has been mobilized and activated by Harris’s presence on the Democratic ticket.

Other members of the “Divine Nine,” the eight other sororities and fraternities that comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council — Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc., have also dispatched their memberships in support of the Biden-Harris campaign.

In addition, U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, plus Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock joined the rally, each giving remarks.

“When we go to the polls, we’ll see the names of those running for office on the ballot,” Warnock, the pastor of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta said. “But we know that citizens do not vote for politicians, citizens vote for themselves.”

Speaking of voting for themselves, according to the latest CBS News and YouGov poll, Biden and Trump are locked in a statistical dead heat, each polling at 49 percent.

As Harris’s sorority sisters strolled to Strafe’s “Set It Off,” and pink and green campaign signs adorned cars across the parking lot, Harris ascended the stage amid cheers, announcing her contentment with having spent the day in Atlanta.

“Especially if you are Black and hold elected office in America, coming to Atlanta is like coming back to the womb,” the vice presidential nominee said at Morehouse College. “It is because Atlanta represents so much about who we are as Americans, Atlanta represents the hopes and the dreams and the fight to make real the promise of America.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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