In his first non-virtual visit to North Carolina since the spring, Joe Biden told a small audience in Charlotte that as president he would improve the lives of Black Americans through a host of economic relief and educational programs.
The Democratic presidential candidate spoke to a small group of North Carolinians during a midday Black economic summit moderated by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a fellow Democrat, and he was introduced by NBA star and NC native Chris Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association.
“The African American community only is going to have its place equal to everyone else when they’re in a position to be able to build wealth,” Biden said. “And that goes for everything from access to being able to purchase a home, access to jobs, access to just being able to have an even shot.”
Biden, the former vice president under President Barack Obama, said he’s aware of how Black communities have been shortchanged by structural racism, evidenced most recently by the disproportionate death rate for Black Americans with COVID-19.
He highlighted how he plans to dismantle structural racism through his “Build Back Better” plan to bring the US economy back from the recession sparked by the pandemic.
HBCUs, Schools Focus of Biden’s Plan
Paul asked Biden how historically Black colleges and universities would fare under a Biden Administration. [North Carolina is home to 11 public and private HBCUs, and Pennsylvania is home to the nation’s oldest Black universities.]
Biden said he plans on investing more than $70 billion over the next 10 years in HBCUs and also provide free college tuition for families earning less than $125,000 a year.
In response to other questions, Biden said he plans to expand access to early education from age 3 on up, to send more federal funding to Title I public schools located in low-income areas, and back efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“You’re able to buy more things, you’re able to pay more bills, you’re able to do more that ends up increasing the GDP, the growth of the whole economy,” Biden said about raising the minimum wage. “So, it’s not only a good thing for the person who is going to be making decent wages from the beginning, it is going to be good for the economy as a whole.”
Biden also backs policies to provide aid to first-time homebuyers, raise teachers’ pay, and ensure that the small businesses sidelined by the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 economic relief programs get the help they need.
The money for all those programs, Biden said, won’t come from higher taxes on everyday Americans but from lowering the federal tax rate on businesses and closing the tax loopholes that allow some of the nation’s largest corporations to effectively pay nothing in federal taxes.
“We can do it all by just somebody just starting to pay your fair share, that’s all,” Biden said.