Democratic Debates: Where Each Candidate Stands on African American Voter Issues

Democratic Debates: Where Each Candidate Stands on African American Voter Issues

On Wednesday and Thursday, 20 presidential candidates will share their agenda and vision for the country with the American audience in the first Democratic debate heading into the 2020 election season. Black Enterprise editors have researched each candidates’ positions on African American voter issues. By a consensus of our editors, the most pressing issues in the black community are (in no particular order): reparations; education/student debt; police brutality; prison reform; black entrepreneurship; the racial wealth gap; voting rights; affordable healthcare; and environmental racism (aka, the Flint water crisis).

Our Methodology

In conducting our research, we first went to each candidates’ website to view their stances on various issues. In cases where we could not find a stated policy, we scoured the internet looking for statements from candidates on a particular issue.



The Candidates on African American Voter Issues

Michael Bennet

Reparations – Not a co-sponsor of S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).  Could not find a statement or policy stance.

Education & Student Debt – “Michael supports policies that make it easier for students to earn degrees that prepare them for 21st-century careers, including programs for career and technical education. He also has championed bipartisan solutions to simplify the financial aid process and expand year-round Pell Grants so students can finish college with less debt and on their own schedule.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a statement or policy stance.

Prison Reform – Co-sponsored 2016 legislation “aimed at reducing mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain drug offenders, targeting violent criminals, and granting judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a statement or policy stance.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a statement or policy stance.

Voting Rights – “Plans to establish online voting registration, require states to offer same-day voting registration and make Election Day a national holiday. What’s more, Bennet pledged to increase resources for the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to monitor voting infringement.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare –Introduced healthcare legislation that seeks to expand the Affordable Care Act. (Source). He does not support Medicare for All; instead supports “Medicare X” proposal he and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) rolled out last month that would allow for a public healthcare option, modeled after Medicare, to be made available alongside private insurance. “The proposal ‘allows people to choose for their families what’s best for them in terms of insurance and in terms of primary care,’ Bennet said.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – He is committed to fighting climate change, (source), but we could not find statements or policy specifically on environmental racism.

Joe Biden

Reparations – “In a statement to VICE this week for a story about healthcare reparations, a Biden spokesperson said the former vice president “believes that we should gather the data necessary to have an informed conversation about reparations, but he has not endorsed a specific bill.” That means unlike the majority of the 2020 field, Biden does not necessarily support a reparations commission, the latest issue separating him from the progressives he’s running against.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “Back in 2015, Biden did indicate he supported the idea of free college, saying, ‘We need to commit to 16 years of free public education for all our children… We all know that 12 years of public education is not enough. As a nation, let’s make the same commitment to a college education today that we made to a high school education 100 years ago.’ While this general sentiment puts him in the same boat as several other Democratic candidates, he has offered no real specifics or plan for implementation.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find specifics but Biden “has leaned heavily on the idea that he would be a continuation of the Obama administration, which took a proactive approach to investigating police violence and racism in police departments through the implementation of consent decrees after the deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Could not find clear policy but when “asked by a local woman, who described herself as an ‘ACLU voter,’ whether he would commit to reducing the federal prison population by half, the Democratic presidential candidate launched into a multi-pronged response about who makes up the prison population, the 1994 crime bill, reforming the laws that put people into prison in the first place, and then, finally, answered that ‘to make a commitment I will cut arbitrarily in half or by a third or by 90% is not a rational way of going about it.’” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a clearly defined plan.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a clearly defined plan.

Voting Rights – Could not find a clearly defined plan.

Affordable Healthcare – “Many of the top Democratic primary candidates have embraced Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan, which would essentially eliminate private health insurance. Biden hasn’t. He also hasn’t rolled out his healthcare platform, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff recently wrote, but he seems likely to present a center-left alternative to single-payer.” He supported Obama’s ACA. (Source).

Environmental Racism – “Stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. Vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency and pollution. The Biden administration will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who put profit over people and knowingly harm our environment and poison our communities’ air, land, and water, or conceal information regarding potential environmental and health risks. The Biden plan will ensure that communities across the country from Flint, Michigan, to Harlan, Kentucky, to the New Hampshire Seacoast have access to clean, safe drinking water. And he’ll make sure the development of solutions is an inclusive, community-driven process.” (Source).

Cory Booker

Reparations– Introduced S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Supports “establishing a savings account with $1,000 in it for every baby born in the U.S. Depending on family income, up to another $2,000 a year would be added to the account, which could be accessed for higher education payments or homeownership after the child turns 18. Booker is also co-sponsoring the Schatz bill, and has pushed for tuition-free community colleges, simplifying the student loan process and refinancing existing loans.” (Source).

Police Brutality – “Since announcing his campaign, he has introduced the exhaustive Next Step Act, which would tackle law enforcement practices by prohibiting racial and religious profiling and requiring implicit bias training. This week, he announced that, if elected, he would grant clemency to more than 17,000 nonviolent drug offenders on his first day in office.” (Source).

Prison Reform – His plan is “to use the presidency’s expansive pardon and clemency powers to reform the criminal justice system and scale back the war on drugs — without Congress — if he were to become president,” and  “granting an early release to as many as 17,000 to 20,000 people in federal prison for drug offenses, and establishing a panel within the White House that would make recommendations for more clemency applications in the longer term.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a clearly defined plan. But, in 2014, introduced the “Startup Opportunity Accelerator, or SOAR, Act. The legislation would direct $25 million of funding over five years to a U.S. Small Business Administration program called the Growth Accelerator Fund. The program allows business startups to compete for funding to help their businesses grow.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – “His baby bonds proposal, the American Opportunity Accounts Act, would virtually close the racial wealth gap by funding a federally-backed savings account for every child born in America that grows with them as they grow up, ensuring that all children born in this country are afforded the opportunity for upward mobility.” (Source).

Voting Restrictions –  Supports “a new and expanded Voting Rights Act, which would not only restore provisions of the original act but also tackle gerrymandering and make Election Day a national holiday, among other changes” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – In April, as senator, he “joined 14 of his Senate colleagues in introducing the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a bill to guarantee healthcare to every American as a right, not a privilege.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – His “Environmental Justice Act strengthens legal protections against environmental injustice for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.” (Source).

Pete Buttigieg

Reparations – “On cash reparations for African Americans, Pete Buttigieg says he’s ‘supportive of the concept of acting proactively to right these wrongs,’ but tells us he thinks it would be difficult to create a payment system ‘everybody can believe is fair.’ (Source).“Rev. Al Sharpton asked each of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates who addressed his National Action Network convention in New York last month whether they back U.S. House of Representatives legislation that would establish a commission to study the institution of slavery and its aftermath and consider making reparations to the descendants of former slaves— he said he would support the proposal.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and presidential hopeful, and his husband have over $130,000 in student loan debt;” “His plan: ‘make public tuition free for lower-to middle-income families.’”(Source).

Police Brutality – After a shooting in South Bend by a police officer he said at a town hall, “The mayor told the town hall audience about several issues he wanted to address: use of force, body cameras, police training, police diversity, and the investigation process ― both in general and as it pertains to officer-involved shootings.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Could not find a clear policy but “Buttigieg also aligns with other 2020 candidates on several other key issues that disproportionately affect black Americans, including enfranchising ex-felons, rolling back the private prison industry, ending mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent offenses, and curtailing the use of solitary confinement.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a clear policy, but, “Buttigieg laid out his agenda for the black community. He said it involves addressing five major issues: homeownership, entrepreneurship, education, health, and justice.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – No clear policy yet, but he “spoke of the importance of integrated neighborhoods, calling for a ‘21st century Homestead Act,’ which he calls the ‘Douglass Plan’ after activist Frederick Douglass. He says the plan would make it easier “to build wealth and equity while also building up neighborhoods in historically underserved areas and making sure we … support those most at risk of being driven out.” (Source).

Voting Rights – He is against voting rights for prisoners. (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – “Pete believes in universal healthcare.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – He addressed the issue: “Our infrastructure is crumbling, and communities of color are disproportionately hurt by decades of neglect in neighborhoods and by unhealthy water systems.” (Source).

Julian Castro

Reparations – “If elected president, 2020 Democratic contender Julián Castro said he would create a commission to explore the possibility of reparations for slavery.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Supports creating “a national pre-K program and get rid of tuition for public colleges.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Offers “The People First Policing initiative, which many have called the most comprehensive plan to fix policing among all of the 2020 campaigns, would not just implement implicit bias training and body cameras but completely restrict the use of deadly force ‘unless there is an imminent threat to the life of another person, and all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.’ The plan would also restrict any use of force that causes collateral damage (like gunshots).” (Source).

Prison Reform – At a Texas event, it was reported that he, “talked about other criminal justice issues, like changing the nation’s bail system so that low-income Americans aren’t forced to sit in jail for being accused of a crime, while the wealthy can avoid incarceration.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a clear policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a clear policy.

Voting Rights – He “endorsed ‘broadening democratic participation by making it easier for people to participate than by making it more difficult, as some have tried to do, with these voter roll purges, shortening early voting periods and unnecessary voter ID laws.’” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – Said: “We need a better healthcare system in this country. Not a healthcare system that bends to the will of big pharma or the big insurers.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – As the “former mayor of San Antonio, [he] was the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Flint during the election cycle.” Plan: “Castro’s plan has three main points: increase resources to identify and remediate lead hazards, improve emergency response strategies, and strengthen resources for families impacted by lead poisoning. He also would convene a presidential task force charged with eliminating lead poisoning and coordinating partnerships with state and local governments. The plan includes directing $50 billion during the next decade, $5 billion per year, to replace lead water pipes and remediate lead in paint and soil. The funds would target communities identified by a national assessment of lead poisoning risk factors. Castro also proposes increasing funding to a federal childhood lead poisoning prevention program by $100 million per year. Michigan received $396,566 for lead prevention activities in FY 2018.” (Source).

Bill de Blasio

Reparations “Mr. de Blasio, when asked about the issue during a visit to the South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus in Columbia, would only say that he would create a reparations commission to study the issue if he were elected president. ‘It’s time to have that national discussion,’ Mr. de Blasio said.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “De Blasio has yet to establish a strong higher education platform. However, his actions in the past suggest he would support measures to make college much more affordable. In 2017, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the “Excelsior Scholarship,” which would make New York State public colleges tuition-free for many students, de Blasio announced a program to allocate money to New York City children’s savings accounts, which they could eventually use for all college costs — including books and transportation — at both private and public New York colleges.” And, “De Blasio does not yet have a strong solution for student loan debt, but he recognizes it as a crushing issue that is in need of solving. In a 2018 report, he identified three key areas for policy focus. Largely, he found that there is a need to promote community colleges, which are typically much cheaper than four-year institutions.” (Source).

Police Brutality – No clearly stated plan, but, “Under de Blasio’s tenure, the American Civil Liberties Union reported, stop-and-frisk searches have gone way down ― though still disproportionately affect men and boys of color. Citywide implicit bias training, a cornerstone of de Blasio’s campaign and criminal justice reform initiative, started last year with a for-profit training company that doesn’t track whether law enforcement officers actually implement new practices from the training, though officers in other states have reportedly found it effective.” (Source).

Prison Reform – No set presidential plan but he signed “the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which was aimed at changing how the city enforces low-level offenses. In 2018, New York City hit its lowest number of homicides in almost 70 years, a success the mayor frequently touts in talking about his record on crime. De Blasio has also backed efforts to eliminate the cash bail system.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – No set national plan, but as NYC mayor; “Reaching its highest annual level ever, New York City has awarded $3.7 billion in city contracts with minority and women-owned businesses, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio reports. That total spending for fiscal 2018 is up from $2.5 billion awarded to those businesses for 2017, and more than double from $1.5 billion in 2015. Simultaneously, the city expanded its first loan program in February 2018 to allow eligible M/WBEs to now apply for low-interest loans at 3% up to $1 million, an increase from $500,000 when the program was launched in March 2017.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – No set national plan, but, “In very few ways can we address the rampant growth of wealth among the one percent. The state and the federal government have the power to do that. I called for a tax on the wealthy to fund pre-K. We didn’t achieve that, but we did get the money for pre-K from the state. Now I’m calling for a millionaires tax to fix the subways and to provide the half-cost fare for low-income New Yorkers. If we’re going to have a strong social fabric, if people are going to have faith it’s a fair and open society, they need to see the wealthy paying their fair share. It frustrates me greatly that we don’t have the power here to tax the wealthy in this city.” (Source).

Voting Rights – No set national plan, but, “New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is attempting to pressure the city’s Board of Elections to select at least 100 sites for early voting — nearly three times the number required under state law.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – “Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced his administration will launch the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation to guarantee healthcare for every New Yorker.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – As mayor, he introduced “OneNYC— offers a chance to turn this situation around by harnessing climate sustainability initiatives as engines (clean energy–powered) of greater economic equality. The plan seeks to lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty over the next decade, and significantly reduce racial and ethnic disparities in premature mortality.” (Source).

 John Delaney

Reparations – Told Al Sharpton he would support the H.R. 40 reparations proposal. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “While in Congress, Delaney introduced H.R. 3466, the Early Learning Act, which would provide every four-year-old child guaranteed access to a free Pre-K program, fully paid for by a surtax on high-income earners of 1.5% on income over $500,000.” He “introduced legislation to allow borrowers to discharge public and private student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings.” His platform includes reducing the cost of student loans. (Source).  He is also “pledging to use federal dollars to fund startup incubators at HBCUs.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Supports increased funding for police body cameras; promoting “ban the box” policies; providing federal funding for training and support of police officers designed to prevent racial profiling and generally encourage de-escalation; and increase funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to increase community policing. (Source).

Prison Reform – His plan includes: End or limit the use of money bail in the federal criminal justice system and encourage states to pursue similar reforms. Cash bail is excessive, discriminatory, and costly for taxpayers and communities; end for-profit prisons; eliminate mandatory minimum sentences; increase funding for public defenders; end the death penalty; remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and create strong federal guidelines and taxation policies to support decisions at the state level; and increase federal support for recidivism reduction programs that have proven to be effective. (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – “Ensure minority entrepreneurs have access to capital (an example is to create a new SBIC program to encourage entrepreneurship and focus venture capital investment to distressed communities); create a federal grant program to fund startup incubators and accelerators at HBCUs; institute a tax credit to promote venture capital investments in minority-owned businesses.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – He “proposed legislation to create nonprofit banks to increase access to banking services in distressed communities.” Says, “Banks don’t currently serve these communities. To solve this problem, we need to allow for philanthropic, non-profit banks, specifically to serve these distressed communities.” Also wants to “restore CFPB’s focus on anti-discrimination regulations in financial services to ensure people aren’t discriminated against.” (Source).

Voting Rights – He “supports automatic voter registration and same-day registration.” In his presidential stump-speeches, Delaney has reportedly adopted gerrymandering and campaign finance reform—two of the key concerns he wishes to address”; “John supports the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require that states with a history of violating voting rights get approval from the Department of Justice before making any changes to election procedures or voting requirements.” “As a congressman, Delaney introduced the Open Our Democracy Act legislation aimed at ending gerrymandering and establishing Election Day as a federal holiday.”  (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – Supports universal healthcare. (Source).

Environmental Racism – His plan is to “invest targeted infrastructure funding in minority communities to address issues including inadequate water systems and expanding public transportation.” (Source).

 Tulsi Gabbard

Reparations – She cosponsored H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Says, “I’ve supported legislation to help alleviate the burden of student loans on our students and begin to find a solution to this crisis. I helped to launch the Congressional Future Caucus my first year in Congress, which is focused on bringing millennial leaders from both sides of the aisle together, to address the challenges of our generation. We introduced the Pathways to Affordable Education Act in my first term, aimed at safeguarding Pell Grants through increased funding and expanding eligibility to increase access for low-income students. I’ve also supported bills like the HELP for Students and Parents Act, which would give tax credits to businesses that assist in paying off the student loans of their employees, taking much off of their monthly payment burden off of their backs of these working graduates.

Now, this year I’ve supported legislation like the College for All Act, which would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families that make up to $125,000 a year, and it would make community college tuition fee-free for everyone—something that’s already practice[d] in countries like Germany, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a defined policy but in 2014 she called for demilitarizing of American police. (Source).

Prison Reform – “Tulsi is fighting to reform America’s broken criminal justice system by working to reduce mandatory minimums for certain non-violent offenders, recidivism rates, crime rates, and the social and economic cost of an over-criminalized society.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a policy.

Voting Restrictions – Could not find a policy but promotes ‘racial equality’. (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – ‘Committed to working to ensure that affordable healthcare is available to all Americans.’ Supports Medicare for All. (Source).

Environmental Racism – Could not find a national policy, but she has a strong, pro-environment record. (Source).

Kirsten Gillibrand

Reparations – She co-sponsored S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt –Says, “We need to allow graduates and their families to refinance their student loans at lower rates, unleashing billions into the economy. We should make community college tuition-free, and we should work toward debt-free college by eliminating tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a defined policy but “led efforts to fight injustices and close disparities in law enforcement.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Says, “We should legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge past records; reform our sentencing laws so that judges can have more flexibility when dealing with low-level, nonviolent drug offenses; change federal rules for our prisons; end cash bail; and invest resources in communities harmed by the racist war on drugs.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship –  As Senator, she supported “Microloan Modernization Act, to expand the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Microloan Program that provides loans and technical assistance to women and minority business owners, among other entrepreneurs who face challenges accessing the capital needed to start and expand small businesses because they are often denied loans by banks.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – “She wrote and introduced a bill to establish postal banking, which would let people without checking accounts—disproportionately people of color—open accounts and take out small loans at their local post office.” (Source).

Voting Restrictions – She “believes we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and then go even further: We should enact automatic voter registration for every 18-year-old citizen, expand access to online registration and early voting, make Election Day a federal holiday, and end partisan gerrymandering and voter roll.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – She “supports Medicare for All.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Could not find a clear plan but she supports the Green New Deal. (Source).

Kamala Harris

Reparations – She co-sponsored S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Plan includes “immediately allowing current debt holders to refinance high-interest loans to lower rates, expanding Income Based Repayment (IBR) to ensure no student pays more than they can afford, and cracking down on for-profit colleges and lenders that defraud our students.” And, “In the Senate, Kamala fought to pass her HBCU Historic Preservation Reauthorization Bill to rebuild HBCU campus infrastructure and co-sponsored legislation to permanently increase funding for MSIs. As president, she’ll continue her lifelong commitment to these landmark institutions by making attendance debt-free for students and making a multibillion investment in programs that teach the next generation of leaders of color.” (Source).

Police Brutality – She said, “police shootings and cases of alleged brutality by law enforcement officials should be handed off to independent investigators, breaking with her long-held resistance to taking prosecutorial discretion away from locally elected district attorneys.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Her plan is to “legalize marijuana, further reform federal sentencing laws, end private prisons and the profiting off of people in prison, and push states to prioritize treatment and rehabilitation for drug offenses. She will also seek a federal moratorium on the death penalty. To help ensure those returning from prison and jail can successfully re-enter their communities, Kamala will start by fighting to expunge records for marijuana offenses, increase investments in re-entry support and job training programs, and take executive action to ‘ban the box’ so employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first—without the stigma of a former conviction.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Her “first priority as president will be to give working and middle-class families an overdue income boost. Under her plan, she’ll reverse President Trump’s trillion-dollar tax cut for big corporations and the top 1% and use that money to give a tax credit of up to $6,000 to working families each year. That’s just the start. To raise wages, Kamala will fight to empower unions, make a $15 minimum wage the national floor, and create stricter penalties for companies that cheat their workers. While Kamala fights for fair wages, she’ll work to constrain the rising costs that keep Americans up at night. She’ll pass her Rent Relief Act to provide a tax credit for people spending 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities. She’ll increase the federal government’s investment in childcare to ensure working families don’t pay more than 7% of their income on care. And she’ll crack down on pharmaceutical companies that price-gouge while empowering the government to negotiate down the price of prescription drugs.” (Source).

Voting Rights –Says she “will restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, require the availability of early voting, fight for automatic voter registration, and make Election Day a national holiday.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – She “believes we must guarantee Medicare for All.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Says, “It shouldn’t matter how much money you have or what neighborhood you live in — clean air and water are fundamental rights. That’s why Kamala created the first-ever environmental justice unit in San Francisco as District Attorney. It’s why, as Attorney General, Kamala sued corporations for exposing residents to high levels of diesel.” (Source).

John Hickenlooper

Reparations– Told Sharpton he would support the proposal. (Source).

Education & Student Debt –  Says, “I think the first thing, as president I would lower the interest rate down to 2.5%, or as low as I can get it, without taking any risk.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a clear policy.

Prison Reform – Says, “In Colorado, we changed the sentencing guidelines for drug crimes and focused on rehabilitation and treatment, giving prosecutors the option of diversion instead of jail time. As a country, we need to go far beyond the new First Step Act, which includes critical reforms to federal prisons, but does not do anything meaningful about mass incarceration.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a stated policy.

Voting Rights – “In 2013, Hickenlooper signed into law a major expansion of voting rights in Colorado. The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act includes a number of provisions that would make it easier to register and vote. With the governor’s signature Friday, Colorado is now the 11th state to enact Election-Day registration, which leads to higher registration rates and turnout. The bill institutes a system of portable registration so that when voters move they can still cast a ballot which will count. It also establishes a bipartisan election modernization task force, paving the way for future reforms. Further, the bill eliminates the problematic ‘inactive-failed to vote’ status that led to voters being denied ballots in certain elections simply because they had failed to vote a single time.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare– “He wants to build on Obamacare rather than dismantle it, and work to help “private insurers succeed” and provide better coverage” Also said, “instead of battling over Medicare for All or universal coverage, I think the goal of the election is to really say, we all believe in universal coverage.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Reported that “he supports the idea of the Green New Deal but has stopped short of embracing any specific portion of the resolution in Congress.” (Source).

Jay Inslee

Reparations – Said, “I think that we have a history in this country that we need to remedy. And I think we should look at the things that have the broadest applications to do that. And the kind of things we should do is focus on ending intergenerational poverty. This has been a pernicious result of racial disparity for a long time in our society. That’s why I’ve been so focused on increasing early childhood education. Being in a zip code should not be your destiny in poverty. That’s why I’ve had such diversity in people that I’ve hired; it’s why I’ve offered pardons to people because of the drug war history that resulted in significant racial disparities. So I think a lot of these things can end the pernicious effects of decades of racial disparity…I think they will have broad support of the American people…” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – He “unveiled a plan for tackling higher education costs in his home state in January. The College Promise grant will offer financial aid for more than 93,000 students by 2021. ‘A student’s financial situation should not prohibit them from pursuing their dreams,’ Inslee said.” (Source).

Police Brutality – As Governor, he signed a bill that “changes the law for use of deadly force by police officers and requires officers to take additional de-escalation training.” (Source).

Prison Reform – He “voted YES on expanding services for offenders’ re-entry into society” and  “voted YES on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a stated policy.

Voting Rights – As governor, he “signed five bills — dubbed the Access to Democracy package — to improve voter access and strengthen democracy in Washington state.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – As governor, he “signed a bill…that will reinforce a significant number of consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, including the much-discussed right that no person will be denied health coverage because they have a pre-existing medical condition.” (Source).

Environmental Racism –Could not find a stated plan but he is leading climate change policy with a “bold and ambitious agenda to mobilize the United States to transition to 100% clean energy, create 8 million good, family-supporting jobs, and reassert America’s global leadership in confronting the climate crisis that is the defining challenge of our time.” (Source).

Amy Klobuchar

Reparations – She co-sponsored S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Reported that “she plans to ‘get something done when it comes to student loans,’ but it doesn’t involve eliminating debt or making four-year public colleges tuition-free.’ Under her plan, Pell Grant programs would be expanded, community college would be free, and graduates would be able to refinance their student loans.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a defined plan. But – “Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota served as “top cop” county attorney in Hennepin County ― which includes Minneapolis ― for eight years in the early 2000s. During that time, Klobuchar declined to criminally charge several law enforcement officers who used excessive force despite their roles in 29 civilian deaths.” (Source).

Prison Reform – “Klobuchar’s plan would tap into one of the president’s few nearly absolute powers: the ability to grant pardons and commutations to any federal prison inmate. By setting up a new system for clemency as soon as possible, she aims to release thousands of people with overly long prison sentences who’ve shown signs of rehabilitation.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – “I believe that we have to invest in those communities that have been so hurt by racism,” she told moderator Chuck Todd during Sunday’s morning edition of NBC’s Meet the Press.” (Source).

Voting Rights – As Senator she “introduced the SAVE VOTERS Act to protect the constitutional rights of Americans from voter “purges.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – She is for improving “Obamacare as opposed to how best to overhaul it.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Says, “Providing communities with clean drinking water and flood protection is critical. Many rural communities across Minnesota are unable to shoulder the financial burden of upgrading or reconstructing key infrastructure projects. We need to invest in the proper infrastructure to keep communities strong and help them continue to grow.” (Source).

Beto O’Rourke

Reparations – Says he supports reparations. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “Said he does not support tuition-free public college, according to a video posted by the progressive political advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future. ‘No. I am not for free college for all,’ O’Rourke said in response to a question during a campaign stop at Grinnell College. Asked for further details about his position on college affordability, the O’Rourke campaign shared a longer statement from a town hall on higher education this month in Carroll, Iowa. O’Rourke said he supported free community college, and he appeared to back calls for debt-free, as opposed to tuition-free, four-year public college.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a defined plan but “weighed in on the controversy surrounding professional football players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police violence. In a viral video from a campaign event [while running against Cruz], the congressman told a person in the crowd that he could ‘think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights anytime, anywhere, anyplace.’” (Source). He also “vowed to confront the ‘over-policing of black and brown neighborhoods.’” (Source).

Prison Reform – Says he will “end cash bail at the state level, make for-profit prisons illegal, and end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Said, “we need to work together to invest in black communities, encourage black entrepreneurship.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – “He has placed the BEA policy agenda — increasing work, wages, and wealth as a means for bolstering success within the Black community — at the center of his campaign. As evidenced by the campaign’s key policy papers, O’Rourke’s campaign not only supports the BEA’s policy agenda, but it has made it a key priority.” (Source).

Voting Rights – His plan “seeks to dramatically increase voting access through steps that include automatic and same-day registration and expanded early voting — and turning Election Day into a national holiday.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – Could not find a clear plan, but Vox reports that he “supports the idea of universal healthcare.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Says, “Climate change has a distressingly disproportionate impact on poor and minority communities across the United States and around the world. Race is the No. 1 indicator for where toxic and polluting facilities are today.” Has four-part plan. (Source).

Tim Ryan

Reparations – Told Al Sharpton he supports reparations legislation. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Says, “Student debt not only makes buying a home difficult but it’s a major obstacle for many Americans to invest in their own future. Student debt has skyrocketed to $1.5 trillion. It’s outrageous. It’s why I’m fighting for tuition-free and debt-free college.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Could not find a defined policy.

Prison Reform – As a representative, he “co-sponsored the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would reduce mandatory minimum drug sentences so expensive prison beds are saved for the most dangerous offenders.” Also says, “I also co-sponsored the Sentencing Reform Act, a bill that would give courts the flexibility to reduce the mandatory minimum prison term imposed on nonviolent defendants convicted of a high-level first-time or low-level repeat drug offense. Lastly, I was proud to support the Democracy Restoration Act, legislation declaring that the right to vote cannot be denied to formerly-incarcerated U.S. citizens once they have paid their debt to society. These reforms will give more of our citizens a second chance at being a contributing member of our nation and its economy.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a stated policy.

Voting Rights – Could not find a stated policy but believes “gerrymandering could have a big impact on the 2020 election.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – Says, “I believe the first and most immediate step needs to be the creation of a public option that allows Americans to buy into Medicare without eliminating private health insurance options until we can implement Medicare for All in a way that makes sense for the country.” (Source). 

Environmental Racism – Could not find a stated policy but agenda features environmental/climate change issues. “A national commitment to clean energy not only reduces our carbon footprint but also creates opportunities for new, good-paying jobs in communities across the country.” (Source).

Bernie Sanders

Reparations – “’If the House and Senate pass that bill, of course, I would sign it,’” Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders promised Sharpton.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – His plan is to “completely eliminate the student loan debt of every American, staking out uncharted territory in the Democratic presidential primary. The new legislation would cancel $1.6 trillion of student loan undergraduate and graduate debt for approximately 45 million people. His ambitious plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation.’” (Source).  Also supports HBCUs. Said, “We must make public colleges, universities and trade schools, tuition-free—including for the 76% of HBCU students who attend public colleges—and increase public funding for all HBCUs.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Supports “major police department reform.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Supports ending, “once and for all, the destructive ‘war on drugs,’ including legalizing marijuana; eliminating ‘private prisons and detention centers; ending ‘cash bail; abolishing the death penalty; ending ‘all mandatory minimums and reinstate the federal system of parole;’” and “reforming ‘civil asset forfeitures.’” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Says “redlining prevents businesses owned by people of color from getting loans, and predatory lending results in higher interest rates in low-income communities of color.” He wants to “end redlining practices.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – Sanders wants to end housing discrimination; “end the affordable housing crisis and create a path to wealth building through homeownership; supports the 10-20-30 approach to federal investments which focuses substantial federal resources on distressed communities that have high levels of poverty; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.” Also, says  “Black and Latinx workers disproportionately work minimum wage jobs. Raising the minimum wage will increase the wages of 38% of African American workers and 33% of Latinx workers.’ ‘End the discriminatory practices in our financial services. We must allow every post office to offer basic and affordable banking services and end lending discrimination once and for all.” (Source).

Voting Restrictions – He wanst to “restore the Voting Rights Act;” “re-enfranchise the right to vote to the 1 in 13 African Americans who have had their vote taken away by a felony conviction, paid their debt to society, and deserve to have their rights restored”; “Secure automatic voter registration for every American over 18”; “End voter suppression and gerrymandering”; “Abolish burdensome voter ID laws; and “Make Election Day a national holiday.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – Says “Joining every other major country on Earth and guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program;’ ‘Allow Medicare to negotiate with the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act; ‘Allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act;’ ‘Cut prescription drug prices in half, with the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, by pegging prices to the median drug price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.’” (Source).

Environmental Racism – He wants to “Enact a Green New Deal not just to save the planet, but to protect our most vulnerable communities. We must end the scourge of environmental racism, and at the same time create green jobs to support and rebuild the local economies of affected communities;” “Protect low-income and minority communities, who are hit first and worst by the causes and impacts of climate change, while also protecting existing energy-sector workers as they transition into clean energy and other jobs;” “Address the inadequate environmental cleanup efforts of Superfund hazardous waste sites in communities of color;” “Stop the exposure of people of color to harmful chemicals, pesticides and other toxins in homes, schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces and challenge faulty assumptions in calculating, assessing, and managing risks, discriminatory zoning and land-use practices and exclusionary policies;” and “Enact a Green New Deal to mitigate climate change and focus on building resilience in low-income and minority communities.” (Source).

Eric Swalwell

Reparations – He co-sponsored H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Has student loan debt. He “signed on to the Debt-Free College Resolution, which calls for students to be able to graduate from public colleges and without debt.” Also says” I’m also leading legislation to allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at a lower rate, something they can’t do today, the same way people can refinance their home and auto loans.” (Source).

Police Brutality – Says he would “require any police department that receives federal funds to force its officers to wear body cameras, and that there should be an effort to make police forces look as racially diverse as their communities.” (Source). 

Prison Reform – Plan includes: ‘Legalize marijuana’; ‘End private prisons’: ‘Send fewer people to prison; ‘Restore rights’; (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – No clear policy but in 2015, he “introduced the Start-Up America’s Students Act, a bill that would create a competitive grant program to establish, expand, or improve business incubators operated by or affiliated with universities and colleges.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – Could not find a stated policy.

Voting Rights – He “co-sponsored multiple items of legislation to increase transparency in campaign finance, expand public funding of elections, bolster the Voting Rights Act, and require states to use independent commissions to draw congressional districts.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – He “supports a ‘Medicare for All’ system that wouldn’t eliminate private insurance altogether but would offer a public option that would guarantee government healthcare coverage to those who want it.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Could not find a stated policy but has good environmental justice voting record as per League of Conservation Voters. (Source).

Elizabeth Warren

Reparations – She co-sponsored S.1083 – H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. (Source).

Education & Student Debt – “Under Elizabeth’s plan, 75% of Americans with student loan debt would have their debt completely canceled. Elizabeth’s plan would also make a $50B investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the largest investment ever for HBCUs. Elizabeth’s plan is funded by an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on the wealth of the tippy-top 0.1% of Americans. Assuming your net worth is less than $50M, you will pay $0 for it.’” (Source).

Police Brutality – Supports “embracing community policing and demilitarizing our local police forces.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Supports “banning private prisons”; “comprehensive sentencing reform and rewriting our laws to decriminalize marijuana.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – She is “proposing a new plan to help close the startup capital gap for black and brown entrepreneurs: a Small Business Equity Fund, run by my new Department of Economic Development. This Fund will be equipped with $7 billion to provide grants — not loans — to entrepreneurs for startup capital so their businesses can thrive from the beginning without having to worry about ongoing interest payments or the risk of default.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – Plan is to “stop handing out giant tax giveaways to rich people and giant corporations and start asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair share.

“That includes an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone, including universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All. And we can make a historic investment in housing that would bring down rents by 10% across America and create 1.5 million new jobs” (Source).

Voting Rights – She wants to “eliminate unnecessary and unjustified rules that make voting more difficult, and overturn every single voter suppression rule that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color.” She says, “We need to outlaw partisan gerrymandering by Democrats and Republicans.” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – She supports Medicare for All. (Source).

Environmental Racism – Could not find a stated policy but she has a “99% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters’ on issues related to environmental justice. (Source).

Marianne Williamson

Reparations – She says, “What I have proposed is $200 to $500 billion — I think anything less than $100 billion is an insult.” (Source).

Education & Student Debt – She supports “universal pre-school for all children”; “increased funding for free and reduced-price lunches, so that they cover breakfasts as well;” “free college or technical school tuition for every qualified student”; and “student loan amnesty.” She says, “we need to explore student loan forgiveness and options to remove red tape and lockouts, and reduce on-time payments from 10 years to 5 years.” She also supports “low-cost education for those in middle and older age who have been dropped from our economy yet still retain, as all people do, the God-given potential to create meaning for themselves and others.” (Source).

Police Brutality – She supports “police and At-Risk Youth Relationship Building,” and “community policing.” (Source).

Prison Reform – Her plans include: “early intervention and addressing poverty;” “restorative justice,” a “reconciliation-focused justice process that can bring healing to victims and communities, much more so than solely punitive-minded criminal justice approaches;” creating “a trauma-informed environment inside the juvenile justice system;” and “increasing the number of programs in prisons that provide life-skills for those who are incarcerated.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Could not find a stated policy.

Racial Wealth Gap – She wants to “provide immediate cash relief through a Universal Basic Income;” “create jobs through a Green New Deal;” “create jobs through a Caring Economy;” and “increase wealth through a Universal Savings Plan.” (Source).

Voting Rights – She supports “state-by-state rejection of politicized gerrymandering;” and “elimination of unfounded restrictions on eligible voters, such as voter picture ID’s.”

Affordable Healthcare – She says “I robustly support high-quality universal health coverage for every American. I will do this by making Medicare an option on the Obamacare exchanges. Over time, more people will migrate to Medicare. I also support federal subsidies to ensure medical coverage for every American, even those in states which have refused Medicaid expansion.” (Source).

Environmental Racism – Could not find a clear policy but she says, “those with lower income, people of color, indigenous communities, and other vulnerable populations must be prioritized.” (Source).

Andrew Yang

Reparations – “Yang, who pitched his $1,000 a month Universal Basic Income platform called reparations a ‘logical step.’ ‘I would go again further, I would put $1,000 a month in the hands of every adult starting at age 18 and then I would say this is not reparations. We need to study reparations independently of the fact that we can make this economy work for you all, minimum, minimum,’ he said.”  (Source).

Education & Student Debt – Details of his plan are: “Propose the 10×10 Student Loan Emancipation Act, a plan by which the federal government would buy student loan debt (negotiated rate with the private lenders) and allow students to opt into a plan to repay it through pledging 10% of their salary per year for 10 years, after which the balance would be forgiven. Ask schools to forgive in part or in whole the debts of those who do not graduate. Initiate a program that allows graduates to pay a percent[age] of income instead of a fixed amount. Establish a commission that will explore debt forgiveness or reduction for students who sought degrees under false pretenses. Change bankruptcy laws to make it easier to discharge educational debt. Expand a program that forgives the debt of graduates who work in rural areas or with underprivileged populations. Close schools with high loan default rates and consistently low employment placement success. Police and prosecute all marketing representations of schools that might induce enrollment under false pretenses.  Allow student loan debt to be discharged through bankruptcy, thus forcing lenders to work with students in good faith to find workable repayment plans.” (Source). Also says “Federal government needs to step in and shore up the endowments of [HBCUs].” (Source).

Police Brutality – Supports every police officer in the nation wearing a bodycam. (Source).

Prison Reform – His plans include “review the current mandatory minimum laws to bring them in line with what data shows us is effective;” “shift federal drug policy away from punishment and towards treatment;” “end the use of for-profit, private prisons;” “fund programs targeted at reducing recidivism and increasing reintegration;” and “push for a reconsideration of the harshness of our felony laws, including an investigation into any civil rights issues raised by the disproportionate amount of minorities convicted of these crimes.” (Source).

Black Entrepreneurship – Cannot find stated policy but believes, “We need to ensure that all businesses are playing fair so that our small business community can thrive.” (Source).

Racial Wealth Gap – “Andrew would implement a Universal Basic Income, ‘the Freedom Dividend,’ of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year for every American adult over the age of 18. This is independent of one’s work status or any other factor.” (Source).

Believes that “the federal government must do more to ensure that anyone performing the same work in substantially similar situations should receive equal pay.” (Source). Thinks that the “NCAA should pay athletes.” (Source).

Also thinks “the federal government should give each working-age American $100 per year to donate to a 501(c)3 non-profit;’ supports free financial counseling for all.” (Source).

He supports “opt-in retirement accounts that have defined contributions that automatically increase with people’s income;” (Source) and says the “federal government should subsidize the moving costs for Americans who are relocating for work” (source).

Voting Rights – He supports the restoration of Voting Rights; “Automatic Voter Registration;” making Election Day a holiday; lowering the voting age to 16; ranked-choice voting where “each voter ranks their top three candidates, from 1 to 3. After this is complete, every voter’s first choice is tallied. If one candidate received over 50% of the vote, they win the election’” (Source).

Affordable Healthcare – He supports Medicare for All. (Source). 

Environmental Racism – Said “Because a community may not have political clout that doesn’t mean we can poison their kids;’ believes Flint crisis underlying cause is racism,” and promises to address Flint is elected. (Source). He also would implement a Preservation of Public Lands and Water policy (source) ; and proposes “a carbon fee and dividend, similar to the one proposed by the conservative Climate Leadership Council, would allow businesses to find market-based solutions to their carbon release while benefiting American citizens and providing funding for alternative fuel research and upgrades to our current energy systems.” (Source).