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NEW ORLEANS — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has struggled to garner the support of African-American voters since he announced his intention to run for president earlier this year. It also hasn’t helped that a South Bend police officer shot and killed a black man without his body camera on last month. 

Buttigieg was invited to the Essence Festival in New Orleans by Rev. Al Sharpton Sunday to speak to African-Americans about his stance on issues that affect them. He encouraged black women to keep fighting for justice and equality.

“If black women are empowered to bring the essence of your experience to the highest level of American politics, that is how we bring about American greatness,” Buttigieg said. “True American greatness found in the every day. Not in a tank rolling down the streets of Washington to make the president feel like a bigger man.”

Buttigieg also recognized the inequality black women often face within the healthcare system.

“Our entire healthcare system is burdened by racism when black women are dying from maternal complications at three times the rate of white women,” he said. “Your race should have absolutely no bearing on your life expectancy in this country.”

Recent polls still have Buttigieg a little off the pace from the rest of the top candidates. Joe Biden is still polling in ahead of Kamala Harris and Berne Sanders.

Buttigieg will be in Indianapolis next weekend to speak at the Young Democrats of America convention along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

(PHOTO: Josh Brasted/Getty Images)