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NAACP President: Buttigieg 'needed' meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton

NAACP President: Buttigieg ’needed’ meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On Tuesday, the president of South Bend’s NAACP chapter said Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s meeting with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton was needed. 

Mayor Buttigieg met with Sharpton on Monday after facing criticism about his record on race while serving in the city. The meeting which took place at a cafe in Harlem was also meant to increase Buttigieg’s efforts to step up outreach to black Americans. 

“I think it was needed,” said Michael Patton, South Bend NAACP president. 

Patton said Sharpton knows the needs of black communities across the nation. He said Sharpton has his ‘hand and pulse’ on what could be described as national race relations. 

“I believe that Mayor Pete was able to pick up some positive information to help him as he runs for president,” said Patton. 

However, as the mayor’s presidential run shines a light on South Bend, people said the needs to the city’s black community stick out. 

“I do see that there’s a gap between economic finances between the different racial communities here,” said Edward Thomas, who lives in South Bend. 

According to a 2017 report, there is a racial wealth divide in the City of South Bend. The report shows the median household income for black families is a little more than $21,000.

The median household income for white households is more than $40,000. Click here for the full report. 

At the NAACP’s ‘Game Changers’ forum for candidates running for the South Bend Common Council, resident Kevin Kirkland said people want to hear solutions to education and housing issues. 

“They want us to have a better cycle for the next generation,” said Kirkland.

A generation which will have new city leadership that Patton said he hopes will address solution to close the wealth gaps. 

“So that we are turning the situation around and addressing the issue of poverty,” said Patton.

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