Kamala Harris hit Social Status in Charlotte today as part of a campaign stop in the crucial battleground state of North Carolina.
With less than two weeks to go until the presidential election, the VP hopeful sat down with James Whitner, owner of the influential retailer, and fielded questions from press in addition to talk about the importance of voting. Whitner, who has been at the center of important conversations around equality, has made it his mission to encourage young Black men and women to vote.
In an Instagram post on the storeowner’s personal account, Harris posed against a backdrop of Converse kicks — created by artist Nina Chanel Abney — with a huge 2020 embroidered on each shoe as well as campaign buttons. (Whitner said she did leave the shop with some pairs.)
Speaking with FN, the storeowner said his discussion today with Harris touched on the importance of community, love and positive energy. (And, of course, sneakers). The result of the conversation with Harris — a powerful political figure who could be the VP in a short time — is a more motivated Whitner.
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“It just encourages me to work harder, it gives me incentive to double down on what we do,” Whitner told FN. “If you see something is important you can be impactful. It gives me the confidence to continue to hit the gas. It helps me know we’re making a difference.”
Whitner said Harris also spent meaningful time with his 14-year-old daughter, Jaiden.
“She just encouraged her to have a voice, she encouraged her to continue to be a leader,” he said.
Although Harris’ stop in North Carolina was just one of many on the campaign trail, Whitner plans to continue his efforts locally in every community one of his Whitaker Group banner serves.
“We plan to shut down all of our retail stores on Nov. 3 to commit the time to go out and help work the polls, to volunteer at the polls,” Whitner told FN. “Between now and Election Day, we plan on driving the messaging to get people out to vote and shutting down on Election Day to get people to focus on doing our personal duty. This is a personal responsibility for all of us.”
Converse has quickly become Harris’ most buzzed-about shoe choice. In September, when the senator shared a video of herself exiting a plane in Converse sneakers with the caption, “Laced up and ready to win,” the post generated significant social media attention.
On Monday, the vice presidential candidate stepped out for a Florida campaign stop in a low-top version of Converse’s classic Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers in a classic black and white colorway.
While Sen. Harris’ sneakers may resemble a normal Converse combination, her pair’s uppers feature a dressed-up smooth leather fabric versus the typical canvas treatment. The Chuck Taylor All Star Leather retails for $55 at Converse.com.