On his Michigan tour, Biden bypassed a Black church, angering community leaders. (Part-1)

SAGINAW  — Last week, President Joe Biden visited Michigan to court Black voters and counter Muslim opposition to the White House's strong support for Israel.

After Biden failed to meet with more Black community leaders in Saginaw, Michigan's premier electoral bellwether and where 46% of the population is Black, some African American leaders feel disenfranchised.

A Black church was one of six original destinations for the president to visit, according to tour organizers. The objective was to find a place where union workers, Black community leaders, college students, and other critical constituencies could support Biden after the event. The president visited two white local leaders' home porches before meeting a Black family at a public golf course.

Hurley Coleman Jr., a prominent Saginaw pastor and Biden supporter whose son and grandson met Biden at the golf course, termed the trip a “missed opportunity” for the president's campaign to engage with the community “real as opposed to what we saw.” “I can’t escape the reality of what was initially anticipated didn’t happen,” said Coleman Jr. “And what was expected must happen. In the near future.”

In a precarious political moment for Biden, some allies worry about resentment in Michigan's huge Arab American community over Israel's assault in Gaza. Any slights might be significant. Biden's support among Black adults has plummeted since his presidency began, and former President Donald Trump's campaign believes it can turn segments of the core Democratic demographic in November.

In the 2020 presidential election, 91% of Black voters supported Biden, according to a large survey, while a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found his favorable rating among Black people at 58%.

State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, of Saginaw, said Black and faith-based groups “felt like there was an opportunity that was missed for there to be back-and-forth conversation, but also room for it being more inclusive and inviting of the larger base.”

Pugh, a Democrat running for Saginaw's U.S. House seat, called it “a slight on the Black American community” since “he was coming to Saginaw and it seemed like it was to meet with the communities of color.”

Biden's reelection team referred queries regarding the visit to community leaders, president attendees, and the Michigan Democratic Party. According to state party chair Lavora Barnes, “You can’t get a more fired up or authentic Joe Biden than the one we saw on a porch in Saginaw.”

stay turned for development