DETROIT – Joe Biden’s campaign unveiled a series of nationwide digital events Friday targeting Black voters in swing states — a strategic move by the Democratic presidential nominee to further energize the key demographic as the race heads into its final weeks.
The virtual events, which will commemorate Friday's inaugural National Black Voter Day, will begin with a voter registration and early vote rally in North Carolina featuring vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris as part of the campaign’s “Turn Up and Turn out the Vote Virtual Bus Tour.” The tour is a joint effort with the Congressional Black Caucus’ PAC and will be spread across a full weekend of events, according to plans shared first with The Associated Press.
Harris will speak about what's at stake for Black Americans in November and urge voters to register and make a plan to vote. National Black Voter Day was created this year as a collaborative effort by the National Urban League, BET and a number of civil rights organizations.
Black Americans have largely supported Biden’s presidential bid and have been credited with transforming the Democratic presidential race and cementing his status as front-runner after his decisive primary win in South Carolina.
Throughout the course of his campaign, Biden has detailed plans to address issues facing Black Americans, vowing to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. It's a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump, who has made little effort to unite the country and leaned heavily on “law and order” rhetoric.
Black women in particular are viewed as the Democratic Party’s most loyal voting bloc but political experts say in the final stretch of the election, work remains to capture support among key groups of African Americans including Black men and progressive voters.
The digital events also underscore how the presidential race has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, preventing typical in-person voter outreach events. Black Americans have also been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, suffering high rates of deaths and unemployment from its economic fallout.
Biden’s campaign, along with several other organizations marking the first National Black Voter Day, are channeling resources behind that effort. The day also coincides with the first day of early voting in South Dakota and Minnesota, where Biden will tour a union training center and deliver remarks.
Friday events are also planned in Georgia, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and Pennsylvania —all crucial states Biden hopes to win with the help of Black voters who have sizable populations in each state.
Among a series of Sunday events, the campaign will host a voter protection training with Reps. Cedric Richmond, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Marcia Fudge; a national Black youth event to mobilize young Black voters; and the BlackOUT Party, which will serve as the launch of Biden's Black LGBTQ+ engagement program.
Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, said Biden's targeted push is a smart tactic with few weeks to go before the election. But Brown said the final days will be key toward connecting with some Black voters who feel Biden needs to do more to earn their vote.
“This push is what the campaign really needs to do, to sell the Biden and Kamala Harris ticket," Brown said. “Voters want Biden to come out and talk to them about the things they care about. What he needs to do now is respond to the people in the streets and say this is not a transactional election, that Democrats really do hear you."
Kat Stafford is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow Stafford on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kat__stafford or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.