Hamil R. HarrisPolitics

Black Vote Crucial as Biden Acknowledges ‘Fight of My Life’

Like a boxer punching his way back from a political knockdown, former Vice President Joe Biden recently told a crowd of supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, “I know that I am in the fight of my life.” And in that fight, the African-American vote will be critical.

From the Nevada caucus on Saturday to the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, Biden is fighting hard to remain in the 2020 presidential race that has a record number of candidates.

But the real test for Biden will actually come on Tuesday, March 3, when voters cast ballots in 14 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

In addition, voters in American Samoa and those living abroad will also vote on a day when a third of all Democratic voters will cast ballots.

After voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, the delegate tally is as follows: former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 22 delegates, Sen. Bernie Sanders has 21, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has eight, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has seven delegates and Biden has six.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is also racking up major endorsements to challenge Biden, who has been expected to win in South Carolina. Biden kicked off his campaign with a dramatic video on how Trump fanned the flames of race hate in Charlottesville, Va. His eight-year service alongside President Obama was also expected to boost his chances.

But Biden’s advantages have been significantly undercut by the billionaire Bloomberg, who has been spreading money in the Black community, including a historic $3.5 million ad buy in Black newspapers.

Black churches and Black women are also expected to play significant roles in votes in South Carolina as well as on Super Tuesday.

Rev. Ianther Mills, pastor of Ashbury United Methodist Church in D.C., noted the fact that three of the five major Democratic contenders are women.

“Women have the opportunity to make a critical difference in this election,” She said.

For months, Methodist women have been organizing in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of a woman’s right to vote and the women’s suffrage movement.

But the bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for the state of Alabama says as soon as the Democrats can unite behind one candidate the better it will be for the party to challenge President Trump, who has maintained a solid base even as the Republican Party, in general, has shown signs of wear.

“We are hoping that we can gain a consensus behind a candidate,” Bishop Harry Seawright, presiding prelate of the Ninth Episcopal District. “The Democratic field is so fragmented we can’t miss this opportunity.”

Seawright said those needing motivation should be in Selma on March 1 for the commemoration of “Bloody Sunday,” when on March 7, 1965, civil rights workers marching for voting rights were beaten and bloodied by state police officers in Selma, Alabama, as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, who served on President Obama’s Faith Council, said, “There are 8 million unregistered Black people who could make a difference from the White House to the State House and we have to get people to see that their futures are at stake. When they vote for a president, they are voting for their families and their loved ones.”

Skinner said in the weeks to come, more national get out to vote campaigns will be rolled out and it will be critical for voters to look beyond race, color and personality.

But Jamila Woods, pastor of Jabez Christian Church in White Plains, pointed out that the Democratic Party “is faced with a plethora of challenges in an effort to take back the White House. In addition to the critical need to get out the vote, there must be limitless efforts to reunite this very fragmented party.”

“There must be a parallel determination to bring individuals, faith communities, social justice organizations and like-minded people together, who recognize the hypocrisy spiraling us backward to a place where the ideology of ‘great’ was demonstrably ascribed through hate,” Woods said. “There can no longer be the suicidal social action of failing to support the party, in deference to a greater evil, when disagreement fails to move a preferred candidate forward.”

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