In what served as a homecoming for the Philadelphia-area native, First Lady Jill Biden offered a message of hope and healing at Wawa Welcome America’s celebration of freedom ceremony on Sunday morning.
Biden made the trip from Washington DC to Independence Hall on what was the return of the last day of Wawa Welcome America, after last year’s celebrations had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s nowhere this Philly girl would rather be here with you, now as the first lady,” Biden told the assembled crowd.
“We’re not at the finish line yet, but summer has never been so full of possibilities, and doesn’t the air smell so much sweeter without our masks?” Biden said, referring to new CDC guidelines that dictate that fully vaccinated individuals can now assemble without a mask without fear of the major epidemics that occurred last year.
The country has failed to meet President Joe Biden’s target of having 70% of the adult population fully vaccinated by July 4, as medical experts face vaccine hesitation, largely in conservative circles. However, the target is not far off, with 67% of adults currently fully immune.
Philadelphia also did not reach 70% vaccination status, but the first lady highlighted the number of people who have received at least one dose, which currently stands at 72%.
One of the people who was instrumental in Philadelphia’s vaccination efforts is Dr. Ala Stanford, whom Biden named.
Stanford, who grew up in Philadelphia, founded the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium last year, which focuses its testing and vaccination efforts on underserved communities of color in southeastern Pennsylvania.
She received this year’s Magis Award from Mayor Kenney on behalf of BDCC. The prize is awarded for service to the community.
“There are many definitions for ‘magis’, but the one that I think exemplifies us as an organization is ‘one that demonstrates universal good, does and accomplishes more for the greater glory of God’,” said Stanford.
Stanford has expressed interest in filling the currently vacant seat of health commissioner in Philadelphia and said it would be willing to relocate to the city from its current home in Montgomery County to do so.
The winner of “The Voice” and native of Philly Cam Anthony was also present at the celebration of freedom ceremony. He, alongside 16-year-old Marley Dias, a compatriot from Philadelphia who founded the # 1000BlackGirlBooks campaign and hosts Netflix’s “Bookmarks” series, delivered an abridged reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Anthony will kick off this year’s Wawa Welcome America Philly July 4th concert, which starts at 7 p.m. The concert will be broadcast on NBC10, TeleXitos and NBC10 and Telemundo Roku, AppleTV and mobile apps. We’ll also be showing it on NBC10.com and Telemundo62.com.