Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are trying to woo older black voters with policy. Those policies may be why they’re struggling to win their support.
DANVILLE, Va. — Ten minutes into a small community meeting between black farmers from Southern Virginia and regional campaign staff for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an aide took the floor.
He was the only white person to speak in a room of older black voters seated in an old beauty salon. He stood, delivering an off-the-cuff pitch for Ms. Warren’s plan to help rural black America: proposals for new access to funding for black farmers, and to address discrimination in the United States Department of Agriculture. She understood the challenges black farmers faced, he said.
But he was cut off midsentence, before he could finish his appeal for their support. Instead, the black farmers had a message for him, and for Ms. Warren’s campaign. Plans and rhetoric are one thing, but to trust a candidate to deliver — or the government at all — is entirely another.
In a community all too familiar with legal discrimination and unequal access to public services, believing in “big, structural change,” as Ms. Warren likes to call it, is a gamble.
“No disrespect,” called out Lauren Hudson, a 62-year-old hemp farmer, “but there’s a whole different avenue when we go for funding versus when a white family goes for funding.”