(INDIANAPOLIS) – A second straight day of presidential campaign appearances in Indianapolis brings two big new proposals to help African-Americans close the income gap.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is near the back of the pack in polling. But she got enthusiastic applause at the National Urban League convention for a pledge to steer half a new infrastructure package to minority communities. Gillibrand says highway projects too often have served suburban commuters while ignoring urban minority communities, or worse, splitting them in two with giant new freeways.
California Senator Kamala Harris used her appearance before the National Urban League convention to announce a 74-billion-dollar proposal to build up technology and teaching programs at historically black colleges, and provide startup funds to entrepreneurs. Harris, one of three black candidates in the Democratic field, says studies show African-American children who have a black teacher before third grade are significantly more likely to grow up to attend college.
Harris and Gillibrand both called for legalization of marijuana, and an effort to help black entrepreneurs get a foothold in the newly legal marketplace. Both senators — as well as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who did not attend the Urban League event — point to differences in how whites and blacks are sentenced for marijuana as a major contributor to high incarceration rates among blacks. Gillibrand argues those prosecutions have a domino effect. The initial arrest may cause someone to lose his job, and a prison record makes it difficult to land a new one.
The two senators followed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to the Urban League stage on Friday, after a Thursday lineup which included former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California, center) greets audience members after her Urban League appearance in Indianapolis (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)