In New Orleans, Harris will participate in a fireside conversation with actress Keke Palmer to discuss some of the “most critical issues facing Black women, including the implications for the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe,” said the White House official previewing Harris’ schedule first to CNN. Harris will also meet privately with reproductive rights activists while in New Orleans, the official said.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn
the federal constitutional right to an abortion, Harris has emerged as one of the Biden administration’s top messengers on reproductive rights. The vice president has looked for several months to elevate the issue of maternal health care at a time when the maternal death rate disproportionately affects Black people and Native Americans. But since the Supreme Court ruling, Harris has repeatedly underscored the broad impacts of the decision — including in a recent interview with CNN
This upcoming appearance at one of the largest African American culture celebrations in the country also gives the nation’s first female and Black vice president chance to rally voters who helped elevate her and President Joe Biden to the White House in 2020.
Democrats hope abortion rights will galvanize voters heading into the midterm elections, but it’s unclear how big of an impact the issue will have in November as concerns over the economy and inflation have remained at the top of voters’ minds.
In a June 22-24 CBS/YouGov poll
, 64% of Black Americans approved of Biden’s job performance, with 36% disapproving. And a June 17-20 Quinnipiac poll
showed that 59% of Black Americans approved of Biden’s job performance as president, with 31% disapproving and 10% unsure or not responding. That’s better than his ratings among White and Hispanic Americans, a majority of whom disapprove of Biden.
Some 80% of Black Americans in that same Quinnipiac poll said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And 82% of Black respondents said they generally agreed with the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
In recent years, the Essence Festival has become a frequent stop for Democratic politicians aiming to get their message out to Black women. Biden delivered
taped remarks at the festival last year. And Harris last attended the festival in person in 2019, when she was running for president.
The White House is also dispatching other top administration officials, including EPA Administrator Michael Regan, OMB Director Shalanda Young, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, to discuss economic and equity issues. Other Democratic messengers, like Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, will speak at the weekend-long festival.
The festival is being held
at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Kevin Hart and New Edition will headline the event. Other artists set to perform include Jazmine Sullivan, Chloe x Halle, Summer Walker, The Isley Brothers and DJ D-Nice.