More than 100 Black men on Monday signed an open letter to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden urging him to pick a Black woman as his vice president, writing that “failing to select a Black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election.”
The letter represents a last-minute push by outside groups to pressure Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate. Biden is expected to formally announce his choice this week, ahead of the Democratic National Convention, after months of speculation and the vetting of several candidates by his team.
The signers of the letter include Black leaders across several industries. Names on the list include: rapper and actor Sean “Diddy” Combs; Lenard “Charlamagne Tha God” Mckelvey, co-host of the radio show “The Breakfast Club”; Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minnesota; and Michael Eric Dyson, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and professor of sociology at Georgetown University.
Other signers included: Van Jones, CNN political commentator; Bakari Sellers, former Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and a CNN commentator; Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley, record producer, songwriter and rapper; Tyrone “Ty Dolla $ign” William Griffin Jr., singer, songwriter and record producer; and Aliaume Damala Badara “Akon” Thiam, award-winning singer and record producer.
“For too long Black women have been asked to do everything from rally the troops to risk their lives for the Democratic Party with no acknowledgment, no respect, no visibility, and certainly not enough support,” the letter reads. The letter says the Black women who are under consideration to be Biden’s running mate have been “unfairly criticized and scrutinized,” and pointed to California Sen. Kamala Harris as an example.
“Was Joe Biden ever labeled ‘too ambitious’ because he ran for president three times? Should President Obama not have made him the VP because he had to worry about his ‘loyalty’ when he clearly had AMBITIONS to be president himself? Why does Senator Kamala Harris have to show remorse for questioning Biden’s previous stance on integrated busing during a democratic primary debate?” the letter reads.
At a Democratic primary debate in June of last year, Harris delivered a pointed attack against Biden over his decades-old fight against busing to desegregate schools and comments about his ability to be civil and work with segregationist senators.
Biden said in July that among all of the contenders to be his vice president, he was considering four Black women for the job. CNN previously reported that Harris, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice and Rep. Karen Bass of California are among the Black women being considered.
Other women are also under consideration for the role. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has met with Biden, making her one of the handful of vice presidential finalists to do so. Two Democrats familiar with the search told CNN last week that Whitmer, who is White, remains in serious contention for the job. Another Democrat familiar with the vetting process tells CNN the Biden has also met with additional prospective running mates. Biden is also believed to be considering Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is White, and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is Asian American, people familiar with the search say.
The debate within the Democratic Party over representation on the presidential ticket has sharpened over the past few months, and some outside groups have urged Biden to pick a Black woman. The police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and others have sparked protests and discussion about systemic racism in the US and police brutality.
In April, more than 200 black women signed an open letter to Biden urging him to pick a Black woman as his running mate. Signers included actors Vanessa Williams, Latanya Richardson Jackson and Pauletta Washington, former chairwoman and president of the US Tennis Association Katrina Adams, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine Susan Taylor, and first female African American President of Spelman College Johnnetta Cole.