Presidential Hopeful Pete Buttigieg Outlines His Agenda for Black Americans

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is attempting to make a name for himself among a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls. On April 4, he joined several fellow Democrats at the National Action Network’s annual conference. The 37-year-old married, gay mayor spoke about his agenda for Black Americans, NPR reported, and vowed to sign a bill that would launch a study of reparations if he is elected president. “I believe an agenda for Black Americans needs to include five things that all of us care about: home ownership, entrepreneurship, education, health, and justice,” Buttigieg told the audience.

Buttigieg did not immediately return The North Star’s request for comment, but it is not the first time he has discussed his desires to help Black voters around the country. In an interview with Ebony, Buttigieg said he wanted to reach out to Black voters in South Carolina and pay attention to issues of inequality that “disproportionately affect people of color.” He cited education, economic policy, and health care among his areas of interest.

“But I also think it is important to spend time engaging the community,” Buttigieg told Ebony. “I found [in South Bend] that one of the most important [ways] of engaging the Black community is quality time.”

Buttigieg noted the importance of supporting businesses that help neglected communities, which can create “ladders of opportunity.” The mayor also highlighted the importance of investing in those communities and building trust between communities of color and law enforcement.

“We’ve also been very intentional about policing. I think for any mayor, diversity, [and] building up trust between police departments and communities of color is vital,” he said.

Buttigieg continued: “I think I would not have been reelected with 80 percent of the vote and 78 percent in the primary, including winning all of the minority-majority districts in our city, if we hadn’t found a way to build bridges on these issues and really demonstrate that we wanted to build an inclusive community … and addressed some of the inequities that have caused a lot of people to feel left out of the economic growth that is happening in our city, just as it has in our country.”

Buttigieg hasn’t always had a clean record when it comes to supporting communities of color, NPR noted. A 2015 instance resurfaced of Buttigieg using the phrase “all lives matter,” which is largely seen as being against the Black Lives Matter movement. He addressed the incident with reporters after his speech on Thursday. “What I did not understand at that time was that that phrase… was coming to be viewed as a sort of counter slogan to Black Lives Matter,” Buttigieg said. He added that he has “stopped using it in that context” since understanding its anti-activist connotations.

The mayor has a lot of ground to make up among all voters if he wants to move ahead in the polls. A Hill-HarrisX poll released on Monday, April 8 shows Buttigieg trailing near the bottom with just 3.1 percent of respondents naming him as their preference to become the Democratic nominee in 2020.

He fared slightly better in polling conducted by Morning Consult; his net favorability spiked 11 points since the poll began tracking in early February. However, he still sat at around 3 percent among all Democratic primary voters. Buttigieg scored slightly better among politically interested voters at 7 percent, beating out New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

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.