ATLANTA — In the lead-up to what's been called one of the most "consequential elections in American history," Sen. Kamala Harris took a moment to pay respects to the late-Congressman John Lewis on Friday during a campaign stop in Atlanta.
Lewis fought to ensure all Americans had the right to exercise their vote and considered Atlanta, the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, his adoptive home.
"I hope to live up to everything that he expected of all of us," Harris said.
The California senator - herself breaking barriers as the first Black and Asian-American woman to have the chance to become vice president - took time after a campaign rally in Atlanta to stand at the foot of the towering mural for the civil rights hero in the heart of the Sweet Auburn district he represented.
Democrats, who have long not seen the state of Georgia in play, have been working hard to "flip" the state blue. And it's now become a surprise battleground state in the 2020 presidential election even though it has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1992.
Just in the last month alone, the state has hosted a slew of visits from both sides of the political spectrum, as Republicans work to hang onto control in a number of Congressrinal races.
But, as Democrats have gained ground in the Atlanta suburbs in the last several years - flipping the 6th Congressional district Rep. Lucy McBath now holds, and coming close to electing the state's first Black female governor in 2018 - the party is stumping hard for big wins for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates on the ballot. Paramount to that strategy: ensuring its base votes early and in large numbers.
It was a message Harris hoped to drive home on her Friday rally on the campus of Morehouse college.
“We need to take back the White House, there's no question about that. We also need to take back the Senate," she said. "We have to, at some point, sit back and think, 'Why are they trying to make it so difficult and confusing for us to vote?' And I think the answer is because they know our power.“
“They know when we vote, things change," she added. "They know when we vote, we win.”
The California senator took a moment alone in silence in front of the mural before speaking on what Lewis, a "wonderful friend and a mentor," meant to her personally and for the country.
"I mean, he's a great American. Look at how true are his words," Harris said, gesturing to a quote at the foot of the mural. "I mean, the sign of a real leader is that their understanding of what it means to be patriotic and to fight for the country we love - it's timeless."
When asked how she would honor Lewis' legacy, she said that it's about remembering the past and fighting for the future America.
"We must be forever vigilant for remembering what's at stake and requiring our country to be what it has the capacity to be, and I hope in my own way, and in each of us, that we would play our part and ... say, 'Get into good trouble,' meaning, fight for our country," she said. "That's what this is about."