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President Joe Biden boasts Black success in address to NAN convention

Here's what President Biden had to say in his address to the NAN convention
Here's what President Biden had to say in his address to the NAN convention 02:16

NEW YORK - President Joe Biden dropped in virtually to speak at the National Action Network convention Friday. Beyond trying to woo Black voters, the president pledged support and expressed pride in campaign promises kept.

The annual gathering does more than bring together the Black community to discuss the unique challenges they face. It attracts the national attention needed to achieve solutions.

"The racial wealth gap has closed the most in 20 years," Biden said during his address. "I would argue this is transformational change, but we know there's much more work to do."

Broadcasting live to the crowd, Biden broke down his efforts to reduce the burden on Black people and boost opportunities for their success, including an earlier announcement to further expand student loan relief.

Throughout the week, ten of Biden's administrators joined talks to touch on topics from wealth to health.

With Black Maternal Health Week underway, NAN brought together leaders from Walmart and Planned Parenthood Friday for a panel alongside advocates.

"When you are hearing the stories of the people, and they're in control of their own narratives and storytelling, it allows people like Planned Parenthood and Walmart to listen in and say, hey, this is how we approach this," said NAN health and wellness policy advisor Alicia Butler.

"We understand the importance of amplifying the messages and the concerns of the community, so we'll always be present and walk this walk with the community because we're a part of it," added Walmart's senior director of health equity strategy Tashique Thomas.

Beyond the disturbing disparities in death rates among Black pregnant people -- currently three times higher than White parents and growing since the pandemic -- filmmaker Tonya Lewis Lee said the national spotlight on abortion rights disproportionately affects the population as well.

"Rolling back abortion rights, we are seeing in real time that we're having poorer outcomes because abortion care is women's health care," Lewis Lee said.

Founder of doula training program Mama Glow Latham Thomas pointed out, Black women birthed the origin of the American birthing system.

"African midwives brought not only the skills of navigating a pelvis and helping deliver babies, but they also brought root medicine," Thomas said, "so that was sort of the anchor."

She said institutionalized health care eliminated the individualized intimacy between parents and their providers.

"We're confronted with people who don't have any reference point, any context for who we are and think they're going to tell Black women things, and they need to really listen," added Lewis Lee.

President Biden promised, he is listening and following NAN's lead.

"Let's keep acting together," the president said. "I'm looking to your help. I'm looking to your leadership and I hope you look to me for the same."

Saturday completes the convention with NAN welcoming youth for a day of action and discussions to find solutions to the problems facing them.

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