Biden touts African American support during SE Michigan swing

Joe Biden campaigns in Dearborn, July 24, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned Wednesday in Michigan for the first time as a 2020 presidential contender and stressed his backing from Black voters. 

When asked by the Michigan Advance exclusively at a Dearborn restaurant about how he’s maintained strong support in the African American community, Biden said, “It’s my long career. 

“It’s been the source of my support, where I come from,” he added during a stop at a Dearborn restaurant. “It’s who I am. It’s how I got involved. The good thing about the African-American community is that they remember.”

Biden was in metro Detroit primarily to attend a candidate forum Wednesday morning for the national NAACP convention, which is being held at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. Most polls have him ahead in a crowded field of Democratic candidates that includes two African Americans, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 

Biden, a former U.S. senator from Delaware, served as vice president for Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

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In recent weeks, Biden has been criticized by Harris and Booker on his civil rights record, particularly on the issue of busing. In his second appearance of the day, Biden had lunch at the Brome Modern Eatery with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who has endorsed him and is set to attend a fundraiser later Wednesday at the home of businessman Dennis Archer Jr.

Duggan said Biden is no stronger to Detroit, one of America’s largest cities with a Black and Brown residents.

“He was in Detroit as vice president six or eight times,” the mayor said. “He’s welcomed here and very comfortable here. He knows his way around.”

Also attending the lunch were Mallak Beydoun, director of constituent affairs in Duggan’s office; Iman Mika’il Stewart Saadiq of the Michigan Muslim Community Council; Sheikh Ahmad Hammoud of the Islamic Center of America; and Shayk Mohamad Almasmari of the Muslim Unity Center. 

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Biden had a hamburger with American cheese and French fries, according to a staffer.  

Hamzeh Abbas, a restaurant patron, was happy to see Biden during his lunch-hour visit.

Joe Biden and Hamzeh Abbas | Ken Coleman

“We need a change,” said Abbas, a Lebanese immigrant who arrived in America in 1972 and currently resides in Dearborn. “I wished him good luck and I support his domestic and foreign policy [agenda].” 

Other presidential candidates had Michigan events slated after the NAACP forum, with Harris scheduled to attend an SEIU rally for security officers and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) set to do a town hall in Flint.

Biden will join 19 other contenders next week in the next round of Democratic National Committee debates, slated for July 30 and 31 in Detroit. 

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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