Jun 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Black Economic Alliance forum: 2020 hopefuls vow to close wealth gap

 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) participates in the Black Economic Alliance Forum at the Charleston Music Hall on June 15, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Sen Elizabeth Warren received a large standing ovation at the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum Saturday, as she and 3 other Democratic presidential candidates vowed to close the racial wealth gap, the New York Times reports.

Details: The Massachusetts senator pledged at the Charleston, South Carolina, event to offer $7 billion in grants to black, Latino and Native American entrepreneurs via a newly proposed Department of Economic Development, according to CNN.

The big picture: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was the only other 2020 candidate at the event to get a standing ovation, the New York Times reports. He told the crowd his baby bonds plan to open a $1,000 savings account for every child born in the U.S. would "virtually eliminate the racial wealth gap" for young people, per CNN.

  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussed his "Douglass Plan," named in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass that's aimed at tackling inequality among minorities, CNN noted.
  • Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke announced a policy that would invest $500 million in small businesses, much of which would target owners who are minorities or women, the Times reports.

Why it matters: The forum comes a week before South Carolina’s Democratic convention, expected to be attended by almost all of the party’s 2020 candidates, per the NYT. South Carolina, which will host the fourth nominating contest next year, is the first state where a large proportion of the Democratic electorate (about 60 percent) is black, Reuters notes.

  • A Black Economic Alliance poll of 1,003 African-Americans found that between 27% and 33% of those surveyed "have reservations" about or are "very uncomfortable" with the 4 presidential candidates who addressed the forum — with Warren raising such concern with 33% of those surveyed.

Go deeper: 2020 Democrats are ready to talk about racial inequality.

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