Today, as we observe the chosen birthday and legacy of Frederick Douglass, Pete Buttigieg penned an op-ed in The State discussing how we must invest in Black America to create a truly equitable America:
The State: A Pete Buttigieg presidency will invest in building a stronger future for Black America
South Carolina recently marked the anniversary of a hardly-talked about milestone in the civil rights era: fifty-two years ago South Carolina State student protesters were gunned down protesting the segregation of their local bowling alley.
The tragedy became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.
Learning about it from current students and from activists like Cleveland Sellers was a powerful reminder for me of all that has been lost and won through history — and that it will take federal support to ensure we learn from it moving forward. The time to forge that future — one that centers Black America and strengthens all of America — is now.
For generations Black Americans have been expected to fight twice as hard for the same opportunities available to white Americans. And for too long the legacy of systemic racism has been ignored or denied. It’s not enough to replace a racist policy with a neutral one and assume that generations of inequity will take care of itself; we need intentional systemic action to reverse these harms.
It is in this spirit that our campaign has put forward the Frederick Douglass Plan, a comprehensive investment in the empowerment of Black America. Developed with the leadership and input of black civil rights activists, advocates, business leaders and the Douglass family itself, our plan will complement any future reparations while reshaping our policies on everything from access to housing to access to the ballot.
That begins with entrepreneurship, and our campaign has proudly partnered with local businesses like Diane’s Kitchen in Chester, Atlantis Restaurant in Moncks Corner and the Fair Deal Grocery on Charleston’s Eastside.
But we also know that in South Carolina — where black Americans make up 27% of the population yet own only 10% of small businesses — entrepreneurs need many more resources. That’s why we will supercharge investments in community financial institutions with a track record of providing minority and women-owned businesses greater access to capital, and raise the level of government purchasing to award 25% of federal business to these entrepreneurs.
My administration will prioritize our historically black colleges and universities, whose impact is reflected in our courtrooms, universities, government agencies and board rooms. We’ll honor that legacy by investing $50 billion in students like the ones I met at Claflin University and South Carolina State — our next generation of black engineers, executives and teachers.
We’ll also ensure that black history is accurate and inclusive, through grants and the preservation and promotion of cultural and historical sites.
As president I will be committed to ensuring that South Carolinians live full and healthy lives, an effort that will include designating Health Equity Zones to help communities improve their health outcomes.
We’ll also expand Medicaid and combat rural hospital closings that have impacted communities like Fairfield, Barnwell and Bamberg counties.
We’ll invest more than $80 billion to bring internet access to rural areas, where a telehealth appointment can mean the difference between life and death.
And as we mark the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, we will deliver a 21st century Voting Rights Act so that every vote is counted and every voter counts.
All of us — especially those of us with privilege — must choose a future where race has no bearing on your health, wealth, access to education or experience with law enforcement. That is the future that I am committed to building.