"Black history is American history," Biden says as he launches fresh voter appeal

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden launched a fresh bid to bolster support from African-American voters on Friday, looking to seal up cracks in the Democratic coalition that carried him to victory over Republican Donald Trump in 2020.

Biden visited the popular African-American museum in downtown Washington and greeted his audience by declaring, “Black history is American history.”

He and Vice President Kamala Harris later will meet privately at the White House with the Divine Nine, a group of historically Black sororities and fraternities.

Biden met on Thursday with families who had relatives involved in the Supreme Court’s landmark May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board of Education ruling 70 years ago that led to the desegregation of schools.

“We learn better when we learn together,” Biden said at the museum.

All this is leading up to Biden’s commencement speech on Sunday at Morehouse College in Atlanta, a historically Black school that was the alma mater of slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

A New York Times/Siena College poll released early this week found Trump winning 20% of the Black vote, a sign that he has made inroads into a bloc of voters who have overwhelmingly voted for Democrats.

Biden singled out Trump and other Republicans for attacking programs aimed at improving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Biden joined Atlanta radio show host Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan on Wednesday and had some sharp criticism for Trump, the former president who is trying to regain the office in the Nov. 5 election.

“Look, Trump hurt Black people every chance he got,” Biden said. “Black unemployment, uninsurance rates went up under Trump. Trump’s tax plan reinforced discrimination. Typical white households got double the cut of the typical Black household. They botched COVID-19 response, leaving Black people dead and Black-owned businesses shuttered.”

Some Morehouse faculty members and students had wanted the college to withdraw its invitation to Biden over his administration’s staunch support for Israel’s war in Gaza, where the death toll has mounted more than 35,000. But the White House said the visit would go ahead as planned on Sunday.

Biden has taken steps that benefit Black Americans like expanding access to healthcare coverage and has fostered economic gains that led to record low Black unemployment rates and the Child Tax Credit expansion, which helped cut childhood poverty in half in 2021.

Opinion polls show the Nov. 5 election shaping up to be a close match between Biden and Trump, making turnout among Black Americans – who comprise sizable populations in key battleground states like Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – a crucial aspect of Biden’s path to victory.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Steve Holland, Editing by Franklin Paul and Doina Chiacu)

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