Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted on Sunday that he “was slow to realize” that the schools in South Bend, Indiana, were not integrated, at least to the extent he thought they were.
Buttigieg, Democrat mayor of South Bend, continues to struggle to connect with black voters. His record on a variety of race-related issues in the city he has led for almost eight years haunts him as he repeatedly must answer to minority groups who hold his feet to the fire for answers to questions about his past decisions and policies.
“I have to confess that I was slow to realize — I worked for years under the illusion that our schools in my city were integrated — because they had to be, because of the court order. But what I slowly realized was that, while that was true within the limits of the South Bend community school district, as they were drawn, if you looked at the county, almost all of the diversity of our youth was in a single school district, which is ours,” the candidate said in an interview with Rev. William Barber III, a prominent civil rights activist.
Buttigieg attended service at Barber’s Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC, then stayed afterward for a discussion with the Poor People’s Campaign, which Barber leads.
According to the South Bend Tribune, the city’s schools integrated in 1981 under the terms of a consent decree, “a legal agreement that was reached in federal court and remains in effect today. The agreement requires that each school enroll a percentage of black students that is within 15 percentage points of the total percentage of black students in the school corporation.”
The article noted that “the latest data, released in November 2017, show that Washington High School and five primary schools are out of compliance.”
A related issue for Buttigieg in his home city is an ongoing poverty crisis that impacts blacks more frequently than whites.
“Part of what I’m trying to do is talk about these issues, including specific racial issues around voter suppression and systemic racism, in a way that helps everyone in the country understand why we all have a stake in dealing with it,” Buttigieg told reporters after the Poor People’s Campaign discussion.
He added that he thinks he is making progress with African-American voters, including those “who may yet not feel that they know me.”
Video by The Hill
The discussion on Sunday ranged on topics from health care to climate change.
The AP reported on the ongoing problems the candidate faces in trying to attract support from the critical segment of Democrat black voters:
Buttigieg’s problems gaining ground with black voters have persisted since earlier in his campaign, when he faced tough questions back home after the shooting of an African-American man by a white South Bend police officer. His lackluster performance is particularly significant in South Carolina, where black voters are a dominant force in the Democratic primary and one recent poll yielded him 1% support from that early-voting state’s African-American voters — far below former Vice President Joe Biden and lagging other Democratic rivals.
Check out some responses to Buttigieg’s comments on race below:
from Sept. in The Root: “several residents pointed to the  federal consent decree on South Bend schools due to segregation and treatment of black students… no one, including black surrogates for Mayor Buttigieg, could point to examples of him tackling school segregation.” https://t.co/DNZ7PSeA7T
— Taniel (@Taniel) December 2, 2019
I have had to redraft this tweet 3x because #MayorPete well-meaning ignorance is so upsetting. I went to an all Black elementary school. Underfunded & all that. The problem isn’t with us. Its with people who think it is. https://t.co/e2JI64R59U
— Maya Wiley (@mayawiley) November 26, 2019
It is important to note that the guy who claimed black folks don’t have educated role models just found out schools are segregated.
Buttigieg: ‘I was slow to realize’ South Bend schools were not integrated https://t.co/zbXvoW355J
— Victor Ray (@victorerikray) December 2, 2019
Buttigieg: “I was slow to realize South Bend Schools were not integrated.”
This is the problem with Pete.
He acknowledges mistakes left and right, but has no resume whatsoever to show he’s learned from them.
We can’t let this guy fail up. https://t.co/JxkfIPGHxL
— Pat the Berner? (@PatTheBerner) December 2, 2019
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