Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms with Joe Biden at rally. Photo credit: Adam Schultz / Joe Biden for President

‘You always had my back’ says Biden to Black voters

In his first speech as president-elect, Joe Biden recognizes the key voting group that brought his candidacy back to life after faltering in the beginning. 

Making his speech in Wilmington, Delaware as President-elect, Biden felt compelled to admit the important role Black voters played in his win. “Especially for those moments this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African American community stood up again for me. You always had my back, and I will have yours,” he said while pounding the podium.

Early in the campaign, Biden ranked third and fourth in the primaries until South Carolina. There, Black voters overwhelmingly voted for him, placing him once again as a contender. Described as being given a lifeline, Biden’s win was due to the massive help of Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

But Sanders supporters voiced criticisms against Black South Carolinians who backed Biden. “Joe Biden is not going to excite the base,” said Michael Moore during an MSNBC interview. “South Carolina will absolutely have no impact . . .” he emphasized.

However, following Biden’s huge win, African Americans in other primaries cast their vote for Biden. So much so, he outperformed the early top runner, Bernie Sanders.

“What I think is apparent here . . . enthusiasm wasn’t the driver . . . I think older Black folks and Black folks in South Carolina kept their eye on the fact that energy and being impressed by, and feeling overly exuberant about a candidate wasn’t going to get us to the winner,” said political science professor, Sherice Janaye Nelson.

From South Carolina, Biden focused heavily on the African American community in turn heavily endorsed him. Voting results show that 91 percent of Black female voters and 80 percent of African American men cast their ballots for Biden, making them the demographic that once again leans majority Democrat.

. . . .
February 29, 202 – Primary Night Event at the University of South Carolina. Photo credit: Adam Schultz

If Biden follows through with his promise to support African Americans, then he’ll be implementing the “Lift Every Voice Plan” plan that he proposed during the campaign. The plan offers more substantial opportunities and the implementation programs and/or policy that is supposed to directly assist African Americans. The proposed agenda focuses on the following areas: closing the racial wealth gap; health disparities; education; criminal justice reform; voting rights; and environmental justice.

Biden’s promises to African Americans come for a longstanding criticism of the key role he played in the criminal justice legislature that ushered in mass incarceration that led to the disproportionate and often unfair imprisonment of Black boys and men.

In his speech, Biden did emphasize that his main priority was to tackle the health crisis of Covid-19 pandemic.”Our work begins with cover under control … until we get it under control,” he said. 

The election of Biden and vice-president elect Kamala Harris is historic. Biden will be the oldest president to take office and the second Catholic. Harris will be the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to serve. She also is the first to graduate from a historically black college and university, Howard University.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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