ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Before Antoine Brown performed at his first political event — a black art and culture celebration for the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg — he had only performed at local coffee shops and hookah lounges.
But now, he stood before a crowd of about 20 Buttigieg supporters at a black-owned business, surrounded by “African Americans for Pete” signs, after the group had just finished watching a video of the former South Bend mayor’s pitch to black voters, the Douglass Plan.
“We’re in a time right now that’s about making our dreams come true,” Brown said. “Y’all ready to get excited? So when I say I got dreams, I want y’all to say ‘Aye!’” The crowd joined in enthusiastically.
The Douglass Plan, named for abolitionist former slave Frederick Douglass, is designed to “dismantle racist structures and systems” that have kept African Americans from succeeding in this country by investing in what the plan calls “black America.”
The question for the small gathering at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast remained whether Buttigieg, a 38-year-old politician who has never won state or national office, can win the votes he needs in the black community to make him a viable candidate for the Democratic nomination.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a tightly packed room with Joe Biden supporters stood Bernice Scott — the first African American to chair Richland County Council. Her dark blue badge, “Biden works for SC,” glinted as she swayed from side to side in sync with a gospel choir minutes before the former vice president entered the room. .
After a dismal performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden stopped in South Carolina to salvage his campaign in the first primary state where black voters are a significant part of the Democratic electorate.
“You can always tell what a man is going to do with what he’s already done,” Scott said, referencing Biden’s previous record working with former President Barack Obama.
He already has the support of “Reckoning Crew,” a group founded by Scott more than 35 years ago to keep residents in rural parts of Richland County informed about politics. The group made up of prominent black female activists previously backed Sen. Kamala Harris, but turned to Biden after she dropped out.
The 2016 pre-election polls predicted that Hillary Clinton’s probability of winning the presidency was about 90%. When she lost, 40% of Americans lost faith in elections, according to NPR.
Yet, the 2016 polls were among the most accurate in history, said Scott Keeter, a senior survey adviser at Pew Research Center. As 2020 approaches, pollsters are changing how they average data by including education to produce more accurate results.
Voter engagement also remains higher compared with previous cycles, helping fuel more specific numbers. Close to 156 million people could vote in the upcoming elections, an increase from the 139 million who cast ballots in 2016, according to the democratic voter-targeting firm Catalist.
A year ago, when real-estate agent Aaron Malki was sitting in his Bucktown living room, he realized he wanted to create something.
When he noticed his Polo “dad hat” hanging from the back of his door, he knew exactly how to combine his passions for fashion and philanthropy.
In February, the 28-year-old launched Heart Hats, which reinvests about 7% of profits into Chicago’s youth organizations. His company produces dozens of toppers, from bucket hats to flat-brim designs, all ranging from $25 to $38.
But instead of celebrating his birthday, his mother, Dorothy Holmes, organized a communitywide discussion to commemorate those who lost their lives to “police violence.” Five years ago, a Chicago police officer fatally shot Ronald Johnson.
“Any mother who is alone in this struggle, don’t let anybody tell you that you’re going to be OK,” Holmes said. “No, you’re not. You’re going to have your good days and you’re going to have your bad days, and you let your good days outweigh your bad days because it hurts, and I don’t wish this pain on anybody.”
Since the death of her son, an avid animal lover known as “dog-man,” Holmes organized with mothers nationally to call attention to how law enforcement responds to issues in communities of color. Six mothers whose sons were fatally shot by police joined her to share their stories in a roundtable discussion with community members Oct. 11 at the University of Chicago.
Beverly Dvorkin, owner of After-words in River North, discovered her love for stories as a toddler. At 15, she got her first job at a bookstore and edited her high school newspaper. She spent a semester abroad in London during college and wrote for City Limits, a feminist magazine.
After living in Boston, Washington, D.C., and London, Dvorkin returned to Chicago at 25 to fulfill her dream of opening her very own bookstore in May of 1997. Over two decades later, After-words remains one of the few independent bookstores left in Chicago.