Biden Looks for New Ways to Energize Black Voters

Biden Looks for New Ways to Energize Black Voters

With much of his racial equity agenda thwarted by Congress or the courts, President Biden is trying to close an enthusiasm gap among the voters who helped deliver him to the White House.

Maeia Corbett had been banking on President Biden’s promise to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for millions of borrowers. Kate Medley for The New York Times.

During a recent town hall with the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice President Kamala Harris offered a gut check to the 200 people who had gathered to take stock of the state of civil rights in America.

“We are looking at a full-on attack on our hard-fought, hard-won freedoms,” Ms. Harris told the crowd, which erupted in applause as she spoke. “So much is at stake,” she said of the 2024 presidential election, “including our very democracy.”

In 2020, President Biden promised Black voters he would deliver a sweeping “racial equity” agenda that included a landmark federal voting rights bill, student loan relief, criminal justice reform and more. Three years later, with much of that agenda thwarted by Congress or the courts, the White House is looking for new ways to re-energize a crucial constituency that helped propel Mr. Biden to the presidency.

That means describing the stakes of the election in stark terms, as Ms. Harris did over the summer in Boston, arguing that the Republican Party is trying to reverse generations of racial progress in America. But Mr. Biden is also asking voters to judge him on a series of achievements that benefit Black Americans — but that are hardly the marquee promises from the early days of his administration.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has gone out of its way to highlight its economic accomplishments, which include the lowest Black unemployment rate on record and the fastest creation rate of Black-owned small businesses in over 25 years. It has pointed to social policy efforts, such as increased enrollment in Obamacare and closing the digital divide, as examples of real impacts on the Black community.

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