Harris Touts Biden Administration’s Record On African Americans, Detroit Automotive Industry

Ken Coleman, Michigan Advance

During a Monday Detroit visit, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the Biden administration has pledged more than $100 million for small and medium-sized auto manufacturers to expand or retool their facilities, some of which could prepare for the production of electric vehicles (EVs).

“These grants will allow businesses to upgrade production and production lines to produce parts for electric vehicles,” Harris said.

Harris gave about 15 minutes of remarks at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to an audience of about 200, most of whom were African American. The appearance was another stop for her “Economic Opportunity Tour” and Harris offered a similar presentation in Atlanta last week.

Harris, who is the nation’s first female, African-American and Asian-American vice president, also touted the Biden-Harris record that is centered on supporting Black business development, as well as job growth, student loan forgiveness and creating more opportunities for home ownership.

“Today, Black Americans are 40% less likely to own a home. And this is a sad fact,” Harris said. “And homeownership rates for Black men have been falling for three decades straight,” Harris says. “We gotta do something about that. So to help address these disparities, in our budget, President Biden and I outlined a blueprint to provide folks who are first in their family to buy a home with $25,000 toward a down payment.”

Detroit is 77% African American and it has voted strongly for Democrats for decades.

Harris also said that the Biden administration has launched a “program to match government-backed loans with private equity capital to make sure auto suppliers stay in America.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who served as Michigan governor from 2003 to 2011, attended the event and highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting workforce development as a pillar of U.S.industrial policy. She echoed Harris’ optimism about the auto manufacturers and electric vehicle production.

“For Michigan, this means growing the manufacturing workforce with good-paying union jobs to electrify the auto industry with American-made parts,” Granholm said.

The Department of Energy will set aside $50 million of its Automotive Conversion Grants Program for partnerships with states to help small- and medium-sized suppliers convert from manufacturing internal combustion engine parts to manufacturing parts for the EV supply chain.

Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su also attended the announcement, as did Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

“I’m just happy that she came to Detroit,” Williams said. “We love her and she has done right by us.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes the “Biden-Harris administration and campaign has shown up for Black communities time and time again.”

“While Trump wants to drag us backwards, our trailblazer of a Vice President continues to demonstrate true leadership and passion. Michiganders understand Republicans’ extreme MAGA agenda for what it is, and I have no doubt they will once again reject MAGA Republicans this November,” Barnes said.

Keith Williams, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party’s Black Caucus, attended the Detroit event and praised Harris.

The Michigan Republican Party did not respond to the Advance’s request for comment.

Former President Donald Trump, the likely GOP challenger to Biden in November, held a rally in Saginaw County last Wednesday.

At the campaign event, Trump denounced the Biden administration’s goal for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new vehicles sold by 2030, which Trump called a mandate. He criticized Biden and UAW President Shawn Fain for the effort, saying a transition to electric vehicles would result in the loss of U.S. auto jobs to China.

“It will be an economic bloodbath. Crooked Joe will rip out your auto jobs and send them immediately to China,” Trump said.

Trump is also scheduled to appear at a right-wing Turning Point convention in Detroit next month.

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan J. Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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