June 13 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has rolled out a plan he says will help African Americans overcome some of the economic hurdles they face in the United States.
Buttigieg, whose campaign has struggled to attract support from African Americans, a key Democratic voting bloc, wrote in an op-ed in the Charleston Chronicle that there must be a concentrated effort to lift black Americans out of generational poverty.
"These persistent inequalities have compounded over hundreds of years," he wrote. "They hold back our economy and corrode the American soul.
"Replacing racist policies with neutral ones will not be enough to deliver equality. We must actively work to reverse these harms, which is why I propose that we invest in equity with a plan as bold as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II."
Buttigieg said he's modeling the plan after the Marshall Plan, in which the United States invested millions to help rebuild Europe after World War II. Buttigieg calls his proposal the Douglass Plan, after iconic black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The plan pledges to slash the disproportional incarceration rate for black Americans by half, nationalize a Maryland program that encourages investment in low-income communities and minority entrepreneurs, and ban voter identification and other obstacles to American democracy.
"I'll have a lot more to say about these policies in the coming weeks," Buttigieg said. "But the time to act is now."
At a fundraiser in San Francisco this month, Buttigieg acknowledged his campaign has failed to connect with African Americans so far, and that he's making an effort to reach out to the community and address troublesome issues they face.
Buttigieg and other Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to speak Saturday at the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum in Charleston, S.C.