Black influencers converse with Biden

Vice President Joe Biden invites Black Press Association of Florida, Inc. to have a seat at the table. Pictured on right clockwise, Lyn Johnson, Gayle Andrews, Rich Black and Peter A. Webley

BY GAYLE ANDREWS, Black Press Association of Florida

When Vice President Joe Biden launched his campaign for president, he made it clear that African Americans would play prominently in his appeal for support of his candidacy.  That may not seem like a revelation now that everyone talks about the “pragmatism,” the “conservative perspective” and the loyalty of black voters to the Democratic Party. But last spring, Biden lead the way by acknowledging the relevancy of African Americans in the greatest nation in the world. 

The appeals to black voters have traditionally gone under the radar, so it is rare indeed to see that public embrace in statewide or national campaign politics. Many pundits chalk it up to Biden’s partnership with President Barack Obama, and that is a tremendous asset.

However, you can discern Biden’s commitment by looking at his 40 plus year record of advocacy on issues that have impacted us exclusively. 

Members of the Black Press Association of Florida were also able to talk with the vice president about restoring and strengthening the many safeguards protecting health, voting rights, HBCU’s, immigration and economic equity for African Americans.  

Here are the excerpts of our conversation.

Lyn Johnson 

Publisher, The Weekly Challenger

BPAOF Secretary

The Coronavirus has the potential to pose significant problems to underinsured and those with no insurance coverage.  How would you address this particular problem and improve upon Obamacare?

Biden: “Under my administration, a person would receive complete coverage concerning anything associated with the Coronavirus. I will also reinstate all cuts made by the Trump administration to Medicare and restore all coverage for Medicaid recipients. What I am proposing, I can get passed.”  

  • Medicare public option if an applicant is qualified  
  • Bring down prescription drugs with upfront cost agreement that cannot be increased unless it meets medical inflation criteria
  • Cost – $750 billion over 10 years

Gayle Andrews 

BPAOF President

Florida has experienced a resurgence of voter suppression. Governor Ron DeSantis is running out the clock on Amendment 4 with federal appeals to stop 1.4 million non-violent felons from voting. How will President Biden stop this assault on democracy?

Biden: “This is the new Jim Crow. It’s a poll tax. We have to restore the soul of America.  This is not who we are.”

  • Then-US Senator Biden and Senator Edward Kennedy lead the effort to pass the 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act
  • US Supreme Court guts the law recently, making it easier for states to suppress voters.
  • Restore preclearance of the Voting Rights Act, increase penalties, and Justice Department enforcement.
  • Restore the rights awarded to “everyone else” equal opportunity, housing, college grants, etc.

Peter A. Webley 

Publisher, Caribbean Today 

BPAOF, Treasurer 

Given the massive anti-immigrant stand that this president has undertaken and the anti-Dreamers push back, with all the reduced and declining rights and benefits that the president has put into play, if and when you become president, how will you be addressing these pressing and genuine concerns that so many immigrants have, especially those from the Caribbean?

Biden: “All Dreamers would be protected.  Immigration Reform would be the first bill on my desk. The whole idea that immigrants cost us is wrong.  They are building America.” 

  • Invest in smart border security and increase immigration judges
  • End family separation
  • Attack immigration problem at its roots
  • America can’t afford to stop people from coming,  who legitimately have a right to be here under our existing laws
  • Temporary protective status for those unable to go home

Rich Black 

Publisher, ONYX

BPAOF, 1st Vice President

HBCUs make an extraordinary contribution to this nation but are struggling to survive.  How do we ensure the sustainability of these colleges and universities?

Biden: “The HBCU Delaware State is the source of my organizing strength since my start in politics. We have to make sure that everyone can afford the path that makes sense to them. HBCU’s make a great contribution to this county despite the fact that they have been severely under resourced for too long.” 

  • Provide $70 billion to HBCU’s over ten years
  • Double Pell grants from $6,000 -$12,000
  • $20 million for research
  • 200 Centers of Excellence that serve as research incubators 
  • Focus on cybersecurity education

Biden also discussed his plan to create wealth opportunities by closing $600 billion in tax loopholes, bringing an end redlining, providing $3 billion in minority business loans, reducing the burden of student loans, and teacher recruitment incentives.

The vice president has consistently said that winning US Senate seats is the key to moving the agenda forward.  He suggests watching Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona and Iowa, and Democrats must hold on to Pennsylvania and Alabama.

Biden would be a compelling candidate at the top of the ticket with his ability to attract moderate Republicans and Independent voters wary of Donald Trump’s antics. Ultimately, African-American voters will figure significantly in the defeat of the nation’s most unpopular president.

Gayle Andrews is the President of the Black Press Association of Florida.  She has been involved in presidential and Florida politics as a reporter, press secretary, or consultant since 1974.

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