Pete Buttigieg Releases Racial Justice Plan Called 'The Douglass Plan'

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, introduced a new plan to dismantle the “racist structures and systems” in the country.

Buttigieg named his ambitious new platform “The Douglass Plan" in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The South Bend, Indiana mayor has faced increased scrutiny from his Black constituents and recent national polls show him polling at zero percent among Black voters, Vox reported.

The 18-page platform aims to reform healthcare, criminal justice, education, entrepreneurship, and voting rights on a federal level. Buttigieg first announced his plan in an op-ed for the Charleston Chronicle in June, CNN reported.

“We have lived in the shadow of systemic racism for too long,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “The Douglass Plan will help heal our deep racial divides with bold policies that match the scale of the crisis we face today.”

Buttigieg proposes to invest $25 billion in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), reduce incarceration by 50 percent at the state and federal level, and designate and fund “Health Equity Zones” to address local health inequities.

The Indiana Democrat’s criminal justice reforms also include changes to federal sentencing for drug offenses and the legalization of marijuana. He proposes eliminating mandatory minimums and issuing more clemencies.

“Despite equal rates of use, Black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for using marijuana,” the plan states. “Research shows that incarceration for drug offenses has no effect on drug misuse, drug arrests, or overdose deaths. In fact, some studies show that incarceration actually increases the rate of overdose deaths. We cannot incarcerate ourselves out of this public health problem.”

Buttigieg included the 21st Century Community Homestead Act in his proposal. The legislation would “purchase abandoned properties and provide them to eligible residents in pilot cities while simultaneously investing in the revitalization of surrounding communities.”

The plan proposes addressing the “underrepresentation of Black Americans in the health workforce and train our existing health workforce to combat bias—especially racial bias—when treating patients.” Several Democrats have also discussed the inequities in health care for Black women.

Buttigieg spoke on the issue during his appearance at Essence Fest in New Orleans on July 7. “Our entire health care system is burdened by racism,” he said, “when Black women are dying from maternal complications at three times the rate of white women. Your race should have absolutely no bearing on your life expectancy in this country.”

Buttigieg’s plan received praise from Kenneth Morris, a descendant of Fredrick Douglass and founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

“We @DouglassFamily are pleased to learn of Mayor @PeteButtigieg’s #TheDouglassPlan proposal to reform myriad (of) racist US policies as president in the spirit of #FrederickDouglass,” Morris said in a statement on Twitter. “Association to a great name, however, brings great responsibility. Past plans made declarations ‘that all men are created equal’ without making all men equal. ... In fact, some humans were counted as just a fraction of the plan’s authors and not at all free to pursue life, liberty and happiness,” Morris continued.

“Plans promising to absolutely end enslavement have been rigged with exceptions,” he said. “Plans that guaranteed civil rights were revoked completely and/or ignored. Plans promoting law and order for the authors and their constituents often mean subjecting people that look like my great ancestor to lawlessness and disorder.”

Morris told The North Star that he has not yet endorsed a candidate, “but I was pleased that Mayor Pete’s team reached out to us for our approval, comments, and suggestions.”

Buttigieg’s campaign has struggled to gain the support of Black voters, as recent national polls have shown. A CNN poll released earlier in July found Buttigieg polling at 0 percent among Black voters nationwide. In an interview with CNN, Buttigieg said he was “not interested in winning without black support.”

“I’m interested in winning black support and deserving to win black support,” he said. “It’s why we’re making sure that through initiatives like the Douglass Plan, people understand exactly what I propose to do with the powers of the presidency and federal office, to deal with racial inequality.”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.