African Americans have largely supported Biden’s presidential bid and have been credited with single-handedly transforming the Democratic presidential race and cementing his status as front-runner after his decisive primary win in South Carolina.
But Black Americans, who form one of the party’s most loyal voting blocs, have been hit doubly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — they have died from the virus at disproportionate rates across the country, and they’ve borne the brunt of its economic fallout. And in recent months, historic protests against police brutality and systemic racism have changed the national discourse around race, thrusting it into a national spotlight and at the heart of the presidential campaign.
The ad is part of the Biden campaign's planned $280 million digital and television ad buy that was announced Wednesday and will run through the fall.
The buy reflects the Biden campaign’s improved fundraising machine. But this ad also signals the former vice president's continued effort to connect with African Americans during a time of immense turmoil across the nation. A campaign spokesman said in a statement that the ad is the start of a series of content aimed at Black voters.
The ad is set against a backdrop of jarring images from protests held in the civil rights era, showing how protesters then were met with police dogs and excessive force. It shows images of protesters today, many of whom are younger African Americans, some carrying Black Lives Matter posters and wearing shirts that say “I can’t breathe,” a sobering reminder of George Floyd, a Minnesota man whose death at the hands of police sparked a global movement.
It also pays homage to civil rights legends U.S. Rep. John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, who both died on July 17, and Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress. But it also appears to link Trump to the white nationalist protest in 2017 that drew hundreds to Charlottesville, Virginia, by flashing images of both, with the words “no more.”
“The story of Black America is the story of America," the narrator states. “It’s the story of a people who have pushed this country to live up to its stated ideas, but Black people have always believed in the promise of a better America.”
Biden is reserving airtime in 15 states, which includes a number of traditional swing states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida — as well as a number of historically Republican states, including Arizona, Georgia and Texas, and a few traditional swing states that seemed to be moving away from Democrats in recent years, such as Ohio and Iowa.
This ad will air in every state and target specific audiences on networks with high African American viewership, like BET, TV One and more.
In Wednesday's announcement, Biden’s aides also said advertising efforts will be aimed at Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander potential voters.
Kat Stafford is a member of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kat——stafford.
AP writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this story.