Kamala Harris Surprises Her Sorority Sisters and More Highlights from Oprah's Week-Long Election Town Halls
Oprah Winfrey has wrapped up her week-long “OWN Your Vote” election town hall event, where she engaged with voters across seven states, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, that are up for grabs in the 2020 presidential election.
During the Wisconsin town hall on Monday, Winfrey, 66, was joined by a number of Harris' fellow Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters from Howard University. And much to the surprise of the women, Harris, 56, jumped in on the call with a message about Wisconsin's significance in the upcoming election. (Trump, 74, narrowly won the state in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.)
"There is so much at stake guys, in this election," Harris said. "We have eight days to go, and Wisconsin is going to play such an important role. Think of your vote as representing you, representing your family, representing the ancestors, and also representing people around the country."
Also during the Wisconsin town hall, Winfrey and her panel, which included activist and podcast host Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, President of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke and more, were asked by a Black female college student about the appropriate attire to wear at the voting booths.
"The answer is whether or not you can be turned away at the polls for what you are wearing — and a lot of places, Wisconsin included — is up to the discretion of the person who is supervising that space," Packnett Cunningham told the voter.
"So unfortunately, at far too many places that means we can be turned away not for expressing a political statement, but a deeply personal one like Black Lives Matter," she continued. "So here's my advice: Keep your clothes plain so that you don't have any challenges, but if you have any challenges whatsoever, call 1-866-OURVOTE. There are thousands of volunteer lawyers around the country, and in Wisconsin, who are standing by ready to make sure our voices are not silenced."
During Wednesday night's Pennsylvania town hall, Winfrey was speaking to 94-year-old Mildred from Scranton when she welcomed Biden, 77, on the call.
Biden, a Scranton native, told Mildred — who drove over 600 miles to cast her ballot for Biden— that she was "so inspiring" and that she reminded him of his late mom, Catherine "Jean" Biden.
"My mother used to talk about duty and honor. I was taught courage is the greatest of all virtues. Hearing your story just gives me that extra boost and hope and energy and optimism for the country," the former vice president said.
He added to Winfrey, "You have always shown us who we really are too, and thank you for inviting me this evening. I feel so encouraged, I really do."
"We wrote [the song] after 9/11 where America was facing tragedy and threat and worry and anxiety," will.i.am, 45, told Winfrey. "And then I realized what happened in 2001 is kind of similar to whats going on right now."
"We had to figure out a way to remind and inspire people to love, and when they do go to the voting booth, to remind them what's at stake," the rapper added.
The series of town hall events were part of Winfrey's overall "OWN Your Vote" initiative, a bipartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaign partnering with national and local grassroots and voting rights organizations to provide tools and resources that will empower Black women to vote this November.
Additional panelists included Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Vi Lyles; NAACP Detroit Chapter Executive Director Kamilia Landrum; CEO,Vote.org Andrea Hailey; Columbia, South Carolina, City Council Member Tameika Isaac Devine; Vice President Color of Change, Arisha Hatch; activist Tamika D. Mallory; and President and Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill.