Updated May 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden faces pivotal test at events focused on Black voters

Five people stand outdoors with one speaking into several microphones.

Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of Brown v. Board of Education plaintiff Oliver Brown, and plaintiffs and their descendants following a meeting with President Biden outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 16. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Brown v. Board plaintiffs and their family members were invited to the White House Thursday to meet with President Biden in honor of the landmark school desegregation ruling's 70th anniversary.

Why it matters: It was one of several events this week where Biden will appear before mostly Black voters. This group has historically backed him as a candidate — but could be less supportive of him this year.

  • A pivotal moment will come this weekend, when Biden is set to deliver the commencement address at Morehouse College, an HBCU in Atlanta, Georgia, one of several key swing states that Biden won over then-President Trump in 2020.
  • The president will also speak Friday at an NAACP event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., also commemorating the Brown v. Board anniversary.
  • Black voter support for Trump in national and state polls has been "surprisingly robust," according to the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
  • Expected voter turnout from the bloc in November is lower than it was in 2020, according to Washington Post-Ipsos polling conducted in April.

By the numbers: 62% of Black voters are "absolutely certain to vote."

  • This figure is down from 74% in June 2020.

State of play: Biden has a weekend lineup after the Brown v. Board anniversary events.

  • He will participate in a campaign reception on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta and head to Detroit Sunday night to give the keynote speech at another NAACP event.

Between the lines: The president's first commencement address this spring comes as pro-Palestinian protests have sprouted up on college campuses across the country.

  • Many of those protesting have linked the Palestinian cause to activism for other global injustices, including racism toward Black Americans.

The big picture: Tension at Morehouse reflects that of voters of color and young voters in the U.S.

  • Some have called for Biden's speech at Morehouse to be canceled over his handling of the war in Gaza.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' senior justice & race reporter Russell Contreras: Some working class Black voters are showing sign they may be open to supporting Trump, but Democratic officials say there's still time to engage them and stop defections.

  • Biden, like other elected officials, has been silent on how the country should stem the trend of school resegregation — a topic that gets little attention today.

Zoom out: Since primaries started, the Biden campaign has focused on outreach to Black voters. Recently, the focus was on Wisconsin as a battleground state.

  • Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is also campaigning for Biden across the country, aiming to engage Black voters. The influential legislator was key to Biden's 2020 campaign.

Go deeper: Biden’s polling denial: Why he doesn't believe he's behind

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