Philadelphia

Jill Biden Offers Message of Hope in Philly's ‘Celebration of Freedom'

“There is no place that this Philly girl would rather be than here with you, now as your first lady,” Biden told the gathered crowd

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In what served as a homecoming of sorts for the Philadelphia-area native, First Lady Jill Biden offered a message of hope and healing during the Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom Ceremony Sunday morning.

Biden made the trip from Washington D.C. to Independence Hall in what was the return of the final day of Wawa Welcome America, after last year’s celebrations had to be scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no place that this Philly girl would rather be than here with you, now as your first lady,” Biden told the gathered crowd.

“We’re not at the finish line yet, but summer has never felt more full of possibility, and doesn’t the air smell so much sweeter without our masks?” Biden said, referencing new CDC guidelines that dictate fully vaccinated individuals can now gather without masks without fear of the large outbreaks experienced last year.

The country did not reach President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of the adult population fully vaccinated by July 4, as medical experts contend with vaccine hesitancy, largely in conservative circles. However, the target is not far off, with 67% of adults currently fully immunized.

Philadelphia has also not reached 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 has been instrumental in Philadelphia’s vaccination efforts is Dr. Ala Stanford, whom Biden singled out by name.

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Stanford, who grew up in Philadelphia, last year founded the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, which focuses its testing and vaccination efforts on underserved communities of color throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.

She received this year’s Magis Award from Mayor Kenney on behalf of the BDCC. The award is presented for service to the community.

“There aere are many definitions for ‘magis,’ but the one that I believe exemplifies us as an organization is ‘One that demonstrates universal good, does and achieves more for the greater glory of God,’” Stanford said.

Stanford has expressed interest in filling Philadelphia’s currently vacant health commissioner seat, and said she would be willing to move to the city from her current home in Montgomery County to do so.

Present at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony was also “The Voice” winner and Philly native Cam Anthony. He, alongside 16-year-old Marley Dias, a fellow Philadelphian who founded the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign and hosts Netflix’s “Bookmarks” series, delivered an abbreviated reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Anthony will kick off this year’s Wawa Welcome America Philly's 4th of July Concert, which starts at 7 p.m. The concert will air on NBC10, TeleXitos and the NBC10 and Telemundo Roku, AppleTV and mobile apps. We'll also stream it on NBC10.com and Telemundo62.com.

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