Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in 2019 in Iowa. The presidential candidate was in North Carolina Wednesday to talk raising the minimum wage and economic justice, particularly for Black Americans. (Image via Shutterstock) Joe Biden
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in 2019 in Iowa. The presidential candidate was in North Carolina Wednesday to talk raising the minimum wage and economic justice, particularly for Black Americans. (Image via Shutterstock)

The Democratic presidential candidate talked about how his administration would improve the lives of Black North Carolinians during a Black economic summit in Charlotte.

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 North Carolinians 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.  

Joe Biden
Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a Black economic summit Wednesday in Charlotte. (Image via Biden’s campaign)

Carolina On Everyone’s Mind

Biden’s appearance backed up what many in the state already know—North Carolina is crucial when it comes to this year’s election.

President Donald Trump has come to the state four times in the last month and plans on being in Charlotte to discuss health care Thursday, just a day after Biden’s visit.  

It’s also where US Sen. Thom Tillis is facing Democrat Cal Cunningham in a tight race that could determine the political balance of the US Senate.  

“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. 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.”

Joe Biden on raising minimum wage to $15

Biden’s campaign also released two ads featuring eastern NC Black business women, brewer Celeste Beatty of Rocky Mount Brewery and Kimberly Clayton of the Bath Place. In the ads, Beatty and Clayton talked about how they failed to get COVID-19 relief aid from the Trump Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Biden’s event Wednesday differed in its structure from Trump’s rallies, where people are crowded together and few are wearing masks.

In contrast, Biden’s event was closed to the public and involved only a few spectators that appeared to wear masks and observe physical distancing requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19. He criticized Trump’s response to the potentially deadly virus. 

In response to a question from Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham, whose sister was killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C., Biden said he would beef up the Justice Department’s civil rights division. 

“This has been the most corrupt administration in modern American history,” Biden said.

HBCUs, Schools Focus of Biden’s Plan

Biden was asked by Paul on how historically Black colleges and universities would fare under a Biden Administration. [North Carolina is home to 11 public and private HBCUs in the state.]

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 1 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.