THE VICE PRESIDENT: Register to vote and then vote. (Laughs.) (Applause.)
And, again, let me thank the leaders who are here. Just let us reflect on what the folks here accomplished in 2020. We were in the height of a pandemic. There was an extraordinary amount of loss: loss of life, loss of community, loss of normalcy, people lost their jobs.
And in the midst of all of that, the leaders who are here gathered the courage and the optimism to talk with neighbors and friends and relatives and colleagues, and to remind them of the power of their voice through their vote, and achieved historic outcomes.
We had a record voter turnout for African Americans in 2020. We had a record turnout of young voters in 2020, thanks to the work of everyone here. (Applause.) The NAACP, by some calculations, turned out hundreds of thousands of votes alone just based on your organizing and activism.
And let’s reflect on what that has meant. Well, one thing is it scared some people. And it is by no coincidence that immediately thereafter, you started seeing extremist so-called leaders passing laws restricting voting days, making it more difficult to vote, banning drop boxes, shortening the amount of time people could vote ahead of the election, passing a law making it illegal to give somebody food and water while they are standing in line to exercise their civic responsibility and duty.
Let us also mention the hypocrisy. Don’t these people really believe the words about “love thy neighbor”?
And what we have seen after 2020 is some people got scared, but a whole lot of other people got empowered. Because of what you did in 2020, Joe Biden got elected president of the United States and I got elected the first Black woman to be vice president of the United States. (Applause.) Because people voted.
And what happened? Well, let’s think about it. Before, we knew that our seniors—and Black folks are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes—before, we knew that our seniors were making difficult decisions about whether they could put food on their table or fill a doctor’s prescription [that] would save their life. And because you voted, we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for our seniors. (Applause.)
Because of that election and people voted, we have now capped the annual cost of prescription medication for seniors at $2,000 a year, because you organized and led and reminded people their voice matters.
Think about it. Before, so many people in so many places around our country, including right here in Boston, were talking about how we need to stop and end those lead pipes, because the water coming out of those lead pipes is toxic and it’s harming the health of our babies and impacting their ability to learn.
And for years, folks had been talking from the community about this and saying, “You know, I may not be a doctor, but I’m not stupid. I know what is happening.” And because people voted, the president and I, with your support and help, will now get rid of all lead pipes in America over the next eight years. (Applause.)
Before, our small businesses, which are part of the lifeblood—the economic lifeblood, the cultural lifeblood—of our communities, were saying…, for minority-owned businesses, it’s hard to get access to capital. But because people voted and said small businesses are a priority, we have now, since we’ve been in office, increased to the highest rate the number of small businesses that have been created in any two-year period. And Black businesses are helping to propel those numbers. (Applause.)
The work we’ve done has been about saying that we need to hear the cries of families who know that the United States of America, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has…one of the highest rates of maternal mortality. And because folks voted and we were able to be there, we elevated the issue of maternal mortality—and particularly Black maternal mortality, because in this country, Black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth than other women. And we said, “We’ve got to address this.”
And because we are doing that, we see, for example, that in states before we started, only three…extended Medicaid coverage for postpartum care from two months to 12 months. And we issued the call and the challenge, and now 35 states have postpartum care [for] up to 12 months.