Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke to a group of Black residents and business owners during a Black Economic Summit at Camp North End on Wednesday afternoon.
In Biden’s first campaign stop in North Carolina since the primaries, he addressed racial disparities in education, the criminal justice system, wages and employment. Notable attendees, like Winston-Salem native and NBA star Chris Paul, Mayor Vi Lyles and Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham, were also guest speakers.
“We have to break a cycle,” the former vice president said. “I believe we have a gigantic opportunity to fundamentally change the systemic racism and problems in our country.”
Biden listed his plans to give Black people a “fair shot,” including
- a 10-year program that would provide $70 million to HBCUs across the country
- ensuring families making less than $125,000 a year receive a free education
- raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour
- providing early education to children and paying teachers more to keep them in the profession
- ensuring that relief funding goes directly to businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
- allowing the civil rights division within the Justice Department to have more direct authority
Subrina Collier, co-owner of Leah & Louise and Uptown Yolk, said her businesses have struggled to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic. While grants from the City of Charlotte have helped, Collier said the lack of national funding given to small businesses did not prevent her from having to cut staff.
The latest numbers from N.C. Department of Commerce shows the August unemployment rate at 6.5%, down two percentage points from July. It indicates some progress as North Carolina’s “Safer at Home” Phase 2.5 is set to expire on Oct. 2, when more coronavirus restrictions are expected to loosen.
Biden said it will be difficult for restaurant owners to reopen because of the costs associated with buying personal protective equipment, social distancing signage and cleaning and sanitizing products.
“You need money to pay for all that stuff,” he said.
President Donald Trump will be in Charlotte on Thursday to discuss health care in America. Both candidates are vying to win the battleground state of North Carolina. Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.