Carole Hoefener Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good day to the brothers of the Omega Psi Phi. It’s good to be with you all.
I – I came by – I’m so happy it worked out. I’m on my way to the airport. I came down here to North Carolina to talk about a few things, but I’m very happy to see you. The last time dr. Marion, were we all together – what was 2019, Atlantic City?
VIEWERS: Atlantic City.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. Atlantic city. And we had a huge group there, and I know this is probably the first time for the conclave in two years – right? – that you were personal.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four years.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Four years personally. Right.
I just visited our sorority boulé. We only had that a couple of times in Orlando – last week, right? Last week. (Incomprehensible.)
So it’s so nice to see everyone.
And listen, I just wanted to drop by to say thank you. We have been through a lot in our country in recent years. And the men of Omega Psi Phi, as always, as I’ve known you all my life, I feel like they were leaders – national leaders on so many important issues and including what you all did to Joe Biden and to elect me for Vice President from the United States. (Inaudible.) (Applause.)
And I think — I mean, when I was at the Boulé in Orlando, I talked about how our sorority with so many of our sister sororities — the Divine Nine as a whole — was really organizing people around this important election.
And you know, now we’re 110 days away from a halfway point that’s so crucial.
And if you don’t mind, I’ll just talk about it a little, because I’m here to come to you again, too, to ask for your guidance and to thank you in advance for what I know of you . I have already planned.
A hundred and ten days out. And now — I’ll be very frank with you — we have to elect two more senators to the United States Senate who are willing to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act — (Applause) — which are ready to take the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act seriously and pass it. (Applause) Who will advocate for women’s health?
initiative [Protection] Law. (Applause).
Two voices, right here in North Carolina – Cheri Beasley – (Applause) – who can win (unintelligible).
I was just in Pennsylvania – John Fetterman – right? – who can win. And if we take some places, then in the course of our administration we can really see through what we started.
But because of everything you’ve done as leaders who then inspire other leaders, we won 2020 because we convinced people because of our good word and standing in the community that it would matter, and it did it done.
You know, I was just over — I was with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and we were talking about it. Our administration was able to extend the Child Tax Credit, which is why we lifted over 40 percent of black children in America out of poverty in the first year.
We’ve been able to get — (Applause) — a tax cut for working families of up to $8,000 a year, which means they have more cash in their pockets to pay for school supplies, medicine, and food for their children. We’ve put over $5 billion into our HBCUs because we know they’re — (Applause) — (unintelligible).
We, through our sister at Delta, Marcia Fudge – Secretary Marcia Fudge at HUD – have taken one of the longstanding civil rights issues that was fair housing and addressed a very specific issue beyond what we know was historical and current issues like redlining, but also one of the issues that has received more attention because we deal with it, which is racially biased home valuations, knowing that our families are our greatest source of wealth and intergenerational wealth – which means, that we pass it on from grandparents to children to grandchildren – is residential property.
However, we still have a problem with home appraisals — you’ve all heard the stories — the stories of a black family trying to sell their home, and then the appraiser comes in and appraises the home based on what they know it undervalues the house.
So they have family friends that are a white family, so they invite that family to come in and put up their family pictures and take down the black family pictures.
The appraiser walks in and suddenly the appraisal is much higher. Racial bias in home valuations, which then directly impacts a Black family’s, and therefore community’s, ability to pass down wealth across generations. These are some of the things we have set out to do, but there is so much more to do.
And that’s why I’m here, to ask you to help us with this, because the stakes are so high.
You see states like Georgia, like Texas. You look at what some of these people in North Carolina and South Carolina are doing to attack the right to vote. And do you know why they do it? You can see a direct connection between what Omega Psi Phi and so many others have done to increase turnout, which has reached record highs — (Applause) — and the backlash — the backlash — because they’ve seen people do that before didn’t appear, it turns out. And then all of a sudden, after the election, among those who denied and lied, frankly – excuse my word – but lied about who won the election. By the way, we won. (Applause.)
But then they decided, well, maybe one way to do it is to pass legislation that — for example, now in Georgia — makes it illegal to give people food and water while they’re in line to vote . Passing legislation to make it harder to vote in an attempt to get rid of Dropbox. Why do we need Dropboxes? Now, if you’re a single dad or a single mom and you got three kids back — bad kids in the backseat — (Laughter) — and you know you want to go vote, you know you can’t get out and get in line stand to vote and wait four hours. But you can put the kids in the back seat after filling out your ballot — the night before — and then drive to Dropbox, drop it off, and drive on. Right?
And those are the kinds of things, the details, that matter in terms of what we’re dealing with.
And so I am here to thank you and to ask that we continue to educate ourselves – as is the history of this so important brotherhood – to always enlighten the people of what is at stake and through the model of your success to inspire and guidance to inspire people to see what is possible and also to remember who we are, who we were and who we will be. Because that’s what this organization is.
And one last thing I want to address is the issue of choice, because I need your help – and I’m just having a frank conversation here – about how we’re going to talk to our young men. Because I think it is very important that we do not leave our young men out of any conversation of national importance.
And I think it’s important to also acknowledge and agree that you don’t have to give up your faith or beliefs to agree that a woman, not her government, should make decisions about her own body. (Applause.)
So it may not be your decision, it may not be your family’s decision, but the government should not be making that decision for you.
And I – and I – I’m here to ask for your help, because it’s about our sisters and our daughters and our mothers and our aunts. It’s about seeing that even in terms of maternal health — I’ve been working on this for years — the problem of black maternal mortality is real, meaning black women in this country are still three times more likely than other women to have pregnancy-related deaths problems die. Much of this has to do with an ilabi- – inability to access the kind of care she needs.
So when we think about how black women experience the healthcare system in America, we know it’s a problem for all of us. And it’s something we should consider addressing.
Not to mention – you know, my goddaughter is just 17 and applying to college. And she knows that wherever she goes, she’s AKA committed. (laughter) With all due respect to everyone else.
And — but she is — she was — I spoke to her the other day, and she said, “Aunt, I’m not — I’ve got to look at what states I’m looking at now in terms of where I’m going to apply to college.” .” That is real. Right?
So I want to ask us to think about it – because I want your help on – on my – on my stage and my platform. Let’s make sure we don’t exclude anyone from this important conversation because it’s taking center stage as a very real issue in our country.
And I can’t stress it more than to share my experience as Vice President with you, which is: I’ve traveled the world. I was just yesterday, or it was the day before yesterday, with President Zelenskyi’s wife, Madam Zelenska. I met him two days before his nation was invaded when I was in Munich giving an important lecture on the integrity of what should be a global priority in terms of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But what I can tell you is this: I’ve probably spoken — I’ve had at least 80 meetings, in person or by phone, with Presidents, Prime Ministers and Royalty, some of which I’ve hosted at the official residence of the Vice President.
We, as Americans, believe in leadership. We enter these rooms, chin up, shoulders back, proud – frankly proud of the fact that we come from a democracy, one of the largest in the world – flawed as it may be, imperfect as it may be.
And people around the world are watching us because we are a role model. And each of us knows what it’s like to be a role model in our personal lives. It means people are watching everything you do to see if what you’re doing matches what you’re saying.
And you see right now that the Supreme Court of the United States — the Court of Thurgood — has taken a recognized constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America.
So when we look at an issue like this, when we look at an issue like voting rights and what’s happening in our country, let us also understand that it’s not just an attack on the rights, which we’ve been leaders in , but it is an attack on our democracy. And in that way, when we go into these different spaces and talk about the need to protect human rights and stand up for democratic principles or the rule of law, it also becomes an attack on our global image.
So we have a lot to do. And that brotherhood has always been at the center of all these issues. And so I’m here once again to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Enjoy the conclave.
And thank you dr Marion, for inviting me to come and talk to you for a minute. Thank you all. (Applause.)