Bloomberg 2020
January 19, 2020


At the site of the Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa, Mike Bloomberg lays out a plan to address the systemic bias that has kept Black Americans from building wealth 

Livestream available here at 2:30 PM ET

Today in a major speech, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg will announce the Greenwood Initiative, a plan to address the systemic bias that has kept many Black Americans from building wealth. The speech will be delivered in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Known as Black Wall Street in the early 20th century, it was the most prominent district of Black-owned businesses in the United States, and in 1921, it was destroyed in race attacks known as the Black Wall Street Massacre.

Mike’s speech will reflect on the enduring legacy of discrimination — crystallized by the fact that the typical Black family owns one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. He will acknowledge that biased policies in the financial, criminal justice, and voting systems have stood as barriers for many Black Americans for too long, and that the impact of discrimination over centuries has meant an enormous loss of wealth for generations.

“As someone who has been very lucky in life, I often say my story would only have been possible in America – and that’s true. But I also know that my story might have turned out very differently if I had been Black, and that more Black Americans of my generation would have ended up with far more wealth, had they been white,” said Mike Bloomberg. “Instead, they have had to struggle to overcome great odds, because their families started out further behind, and excluded from opportunities – in housing, employment, education, and other areas. This weekend, as we celebrate the life of Dr. King, we remember that he not only marched for equal rights, he marched for economic justice, because they go hand-in-hand. He knew that equality under the law was only the first step to true equality, and true equality is only achieved when there is no correlation between skin color and success.”

Mike’s plan, the Greenwood Initiative, lays out a path to the creation of 1 million new Black homeowners and 100,000 new Black-owned businesses in the next decade. His plan also includes a $70 billion investment in the country’s 100 most disadvantaged neighborhoods: 
Creating generational wealth through homeownership 

Homeownership is a vital way to build generational wealth and community and is a pillar of the American Dream for many. But it’s out of reach for too many Black Americans. Mike’s plan aims to create 1 million new Black homeowners. Mike will close this gap by providing down-payment assistance, getting millions banked and recognized by credit scoring companies, enforcing fair lending laws, reducing foreclosures and evictions, and increasing the supply of affordable housing. 
  • In mid-2019, the Black homeownership rate dropped to 41 percent -- almost 33 percentage points below the white homeownership rate. The decline in Black homeownership has erased all of the gains made since the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act, landmark legislation outlawing housing discrimination. A study by the National Fair Housing Alliance found that real estate discrimination was pervasive in at least a dozen major metropolitan areas.
  • Mike’s plan will address the homeownership gap by creating 1 million more Black homeowners. His plan will provide down-payment assistance, get millions recognized by credit scoring companies, enforce fair lending laws, reduce foreclosures and evictions, and increase the supply of affordable housing. The plan will also aim to help millions more Black Americans open bank accounts, by offering financial services through the Post Office and by piloting a program to provide free checking accounts to recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Too many Black Americans are “credit invisible.” People need credit scores to qualify for mortgage loans, but through its mortgage-guarantee programs, the federal government effectively requires lenders to use credit-scoring models that disproportionately exclude Black Americans. As a result, millions of Black householders are “credit invisible.” 
  • Mike will order federally controlled and mandated mortgage guarantors to update their credit-scoring requirements, to insist that scoring models be tested for racial bias, and to encourage the use of alternative models that employ information such as bank account history, rental payments, or mobile-phone payments to assess creditworthiness.
  • Zoning rules, which stipulate minimum lot sizes or maximum building heights to prevent the construction of affordable housing, often lock minorities out of desirable neighborhoods (and often were designed specifically to do so). The Trump administration has been reversing efforts designed to break down such barriers to upward mobility.
  • Mike will create a Housing Fairness Commission, funded with an initial $10 billion, to work with municipalities and nonprofits on testing policies aimed at reversing the effects of discrimination and expanding programs that work.

Investing in Black-owned business growth

Mike’s plan aims to spur the creation of more than 100,000 new Black-owned businesses, doubling their number. To boost Black-owned businesses, the plan will set up user-friendly one-stop shops for entrepreneurs across the country, expand mentorships and incubators, increase access to capital, support Black-owned banks, and expand procurement from Black-owned businesses.
  • Black Americans own only a little more than 100,000 businesses. Mike will aim to nearly double that number to 200,000 businesses.  His plan includes setting up user-friendly one-stop shops for entrepreneurs across the country, expanding mentorships and incubators, increasing access to capital (both debt and equity), supporting Black-owned banks, and boosting procurement from Black-owned businesses. These efforts are aimed particularly at benefiting Black women entrepreneurs, the fastest growing group for new entrepreneurs.
  • Black-owned businesses account for only 2% of financings under the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. Mike will provide incentives for private investors to focus on underrepresented groups and underserved communities. For example, his plan would promote partnerships with university incubator programs that could offer added SBIC support for startups in nearby distressed neighborhoods.
  • And Black-owned businesses can’t get the credit they need to expand.  Studies consistently find that they experience higher denial rates and pay higher interest rates when they do get loans. The government doesn’t gather the data needed to adequately monitor bias in business lending. Meanwhile, assets are dwindling at Black-owned banks, which tend to focus on Black communities. 
  • Mike will support Black-owned banks by increasing federal deposits, and by providing a streamlined process to qualify as CDFIs -- allowing them to issue government-guaranteed bonds whose proceeds can be used for community investments. He will also require financial institutions to report data on small-business lending, including relevant characteristics of borrowers such as race and gender -- as mandated in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

Investing $70 billion in the neighborhoods that need it most  

Due to generations of systematic discrimination, too many Black Americans grow up and live in neighborhoods where health, education, and employment outcomes are unacceptably low. Every American should have an equal shot at success. Mike will launch a $70 billion national initiative to identify and turn around 100 of the country’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. It will invest in 100 communities over five years to tackle the neighborhood conditions that perpetuate poverty and exclude the historically disadvantaged from growth and opportunity. The plan will orient all federal human-serving agencies with an equity framework that is place-based and evidence-based, using rigorous evaluation to expand what works and discontinue what doesn’t.
  • Black Americans disproportionately experience extreme poverty, due in large part to decades of government policies that created segregated communities and deprived them of credit and public investment. Specifically, an estimated 8.2% of Black Americans live in neighborhoods with poverty rates exceeding 45%, compared with just 1% of whites. In the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, for instance, where more than half of all children live in poverty, life expectancy is about a decade less than the national average, and fewer than one in 10 eighth-grade students pass proficiency exams in reading and math.
  • Mike will create a new Neighborhood Equity and Opportunity Office (NEOO) to manage the initiative. It will be an executive office located in the White House, to provide cross-agency leadership and coordination, with an executive council comprised of participating agencies. The office will set the agenda, authorize spending, guide implementation, and manage evaluation. It will always make households and communities the center of the effort, through coordinated management and “braided” funding of federal agencies. 
  • Mike will put a relentless focus on evaluation to expand programs that work. The program will provide communities with technical assistance to develop revitalization plans, which they can devise themselves or create using a menu of evidence-based programs. 
  • The plan builds on work Mike did as Mayor of New York City. He created the Center for Economic Opportunity, which tested dozens of anti-poverty innovations and subjected them to the highest standards of evaluation. These included the Young Men’s Initiative, which addressed the structural barriers preventing young men of color from advancing through education and employment. During his tenure, New York was the only large city in the U.S. that did not experience a rise in poverty, while the U.S. as a whole — in a period marked by the Great Recession of 2008 — saw a 28% increase in poverty, and other large cities combined saw a 36% increase. 
Addressing systemic discrimination, segregation, and social and civic barriers 
Black Americans have been disproportionately incarcerated, politically disenfranchised, and subject to systematic discrimination. Mike will defend the rights of protected groups under the law by reinvigorating and reorienting the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. He will also shed light on discriminatory practices by requiring companies to report on hiring, pay, and procurement and collecting more complete lending data. Furthermore, Mike’s plan ties federal housing funding to progress in reducing segregation, requires implicit bias training for police, teachers and federal contractors, and restores voting rights by addressing practices such as ID requirements, roll purging, and gerrymandering. 
  • The average Black student attends a school in the 37th percentile for test score results whereas the average white student attends a school in the 60th percentile. Despite decades of progress, achievement gaps between Black and white students at the high-school level remain large and stem from other disparities, such as in the way students are disciplined
  • America’s higher education system is supposed to be a great equalizer, but it does not provide equal opportunity for all students. Black Americans enroll and graduate at lower rates than their white peers, and disproportionately attend institutions that have lower levels of spending per student, or that confer worthless degrees and leave them in debt.
  • Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at more than five times the rate of whites. And Black Americans are about 3.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both races use marijuana at about the same rate
  • Mike will act to address systematic discrimination. Civil rights are a prerequisite for realizing one’s potential. Mike will defend the rights of protected groups by reinvigorating and reorienting the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. He will also shed light on discriminatory practices by requiring companies to report on hiring, pay and procurement and collecting lending data. The plan also ties federal housing funding to progress in reducing segregation, requires implicit bias training for police, teachers, and federal contractors and restores voting rights by addressing practices such as ID requirements, roll purging, and gerrymandering.

Mike has an extensive record of improving outcomes for Black Americans as Mayor of New York City

On creating jobs and reducing poverty: 
  • Mike led the nation’s most ambitious effort to reduce poverty. Under Mike, New York was the only one of the 20 largest U.S. cities in which the poverty rate remained flat. In the other 19 cities, poverty rose by an average of 36%. [Office of the Mayor Press Release, 11/14/13]
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit was created to improve the economic situations of the working poor. Since its creation, more than 9 million families have been lifted out of poverty. Mike’s Paycheck Plus program extended this idea to low-income workers without dependent children. Sixty percent of the participants in the Paycheck Plus demonstration project were male, mostly men of color.
    • Started a local Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefit in 2004 to help working families afford their most vital need and transition them out of poverty. 
      • Between 2004 and 2013, the City’s EITC put $859.7M back in the pockets of hard working New Yorkers. [Annual Reports on Tax Expenditures, 2007-2016]
      • Between 2002 and 2012, the City’s EITC Campaign helped New Yorkers claim more than $20 billion in federal, State and City refunds, including $1 billion directly through the City’s network of free and low-cost sites. [NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, 12/4/19]
  • Mike’s Paycheck Plus program extended this idea to low-income workers without dependent children. Sixty percent of the participants in the demonstration project were male, mostly men of color. The program: 
    • Increased post-tax individual earnings by 6 percent, from average annual earnings of $11,419 for the control group to $12,054 for the program group [MRDC, 9/2018];
    • Reduced severe poverty by about 10 percent, from a 33 percent rate for the control group to 29 percent for the program group [MRDC, 9/2018]; and
    • Modestly increased employment by about 3 percent, with stronger effects found among men with more barriers to work and women. [MRDC, 9/2018]
  • The Child Care Tax Credit was implemented in 2007 to aid low-income families with childcare costs while enabling parents to maintain full-time jobs. City residents who earn $30,000 or less and pay childcare for children up to the age of three may qualify for this tax credit. The program was created as part of the Center for Economic Opportunity. [Epoch Times, 3/10/09]
    • Over 50,000 New Yorkers claimed the City's Child Care Tax Credit in the first year of implementation and claimed over $30 million. Each filer received a refund of $600 on average.  [Epoch Times, 3/10/09]
    • Between 2007 and 20013, the Child Care and Dependent Tax Credit PUT $108.7M in the pockets of New York’s low-income families. [Annual Reports on Tax Expenditures 2010-2016], 
  • Created Financial Empowerment Centers, which offer free, one-on-one professional financial counseling.
    • “The Centers have helped more than 23,000 clients reduce their debts by over $12 million and increase savings by more than $2.2 million” between the program’s inception in 2009 and 2013. [Mayor’s Management Report, 9/2013]
      • During Fiscal 2013 financial counselors helped 37 percent of clients achieve significant financial outcomes by, for example, reducing their debt loads by at least 10 percent, saving at least two percent of net income, or increasing their credit score by 35 points. [Mayor’s Management Report, 9/2013]
    • The Centers for Financial Empowerment led directly to the Cities for Financial Empowerment, a coalition of cities that are providing leadership and guidance on how cities can galvanize resources and focus attention on critical issues. [Bloomberg Philanthropies, accessed 11/27/19]
      • Coalition includes 15 member cities representing almost 22 million people that have made tangible, measurable commitments to supporting financial empowerment programming, and both teach and learn from one another. [Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, accessed 12/6/19]
      • 32 Cities across 22 states and the nation of Antigua and Barbuda are engaged in projects to replicate the Financial Empowerment Center initiative. [Center for Financial Empowerment Fund, accessed 11/27/19
  • Launched $aveNYC, a tax-time matched savings program that attracted an average of 1,255 savers per year. [MRDC, 1/2016]
    •  Over 90 percent of enrollees deposited tax refund dollars in their $aveNYC savings account and nearly three-quarters of enrollees (or 80 percent of depositors) maintained their deposits for about a year and received the savings match. [MRDC, 1/2016]
      • The $aveNYC study conducted by the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina found that 31 percent of $aveNYC participants did not have a bank account (that is, were “unbanked”) and 36 percent reported having no savings when they entered the program. [MRDC, 1/2016]
    • The program expanded to Newark, NJ; Tulsa, OK; and San Antonio, TX in 2011 and became SaveUSA. [MRDC, 4/2013]
      • “SaveUSA participants had an average of $522, or 30 percent, more saved than regular tax filers, and were eight percentage points more likely to hold any kind of savings 42 months after program enrollment.” [MRDC, 1/2016]
      • “SaveUSA led to an increase in consistent saving (defined as having nonretirement savings at both 18 and 42 month surveys) and a decrease in the incidence of liquid asset poverty (defined as lacking sufficient liquid assets, either non-retirement savings or retirement savings, to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income) by 6 percentage points.” [MRDC, 1/2016]
      • SaveUSA participants were able to do all this without incurring greater amounts of debt. [MRDC, 1/2016]
  • The Young Men’s Initiative, launched in 2011, was the first-ever municipal focus on the persistent disparities young men of color experience in outcomes across all service domains, especially justice. It provided a foundation for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative
    • The YMI sponsored 40 initiatives across 20 city agencies, investing $43 million annually to challenge the legacy of systemic barriers and implicit bias in service delivery. [YMI Annual Report for 2013, 2013]
  • In his first term, Mike signed Local Law 129, which broadened access to city contracts for women and minority owned businesses. [Next City, 6/27/13]
    • In 2013, Mike signed Local Law 1, which further expanded contracting opportunities for M/WBEs by dropping the $1M cap on contracts. [Next City, 6/27/13]
    • During his tenure, the value of contracts awarded to minority and women owned business grew to $3.5 billion. Certified businesses quadrupled, to 3,700 from 700. [Mayors Management Reports, 2005-13, accessed 1/13/20]
  • Signed legislation creating the New York City Banking Development District Program, which helped establish bank branches in 20 underserved neighborhoods through nearly $200M in below-market deposits. [US States News, Press Release from Los Angeles City Council via LexisNexis, 11/9/19]
  • In 2011, Mike announced a “Ban the Box” policy in city employment to allow a job applicant to make it through an initial interview before being required to share record of justice involvement. [Gotham Gazette, 9/26/11] The city launched expungement campaigns to lawfully clear criminal records which impede employment. [, 8/4/11]
  • NYC Opportunity launched the first City-funded Jobs-Plus site in East Harlem with its agency partners in 2009. According to the Urban Institute analysis of the Jobs-Plus program, New Yorkers participating in the Jobs-Plus program for one year are 72 percent more likely to be employed and earned 32 percent more than those who had not yet joined the program. [, 9/6/19
    • The initiative was subject to a rigorous evaluation, which found that where implemented fully, Jobs-Plus boosted residents’ annual earnings by 16 percent, or $1,300 per year, an effect that endured seven years without abating. [MRDC, 10/2015]
  • Human Resource Administration placed cash assistance applicants and recipients into more than 1 million jobs between 2002 and 2013. [Mayor's Management Reports, 2005-13]

On education: 
  • Mike’s reform policies led to a 42% increase in graduation rates in New York City public schools, with Black and Hispanic students making the biggest gains. Mike doubled the education budget and gave a 43% raise to teachers. [Office of the Mayor Press Release, 12/4/13]
  • As Mayor, Mike permitted nearly 200 charter schools, like the Eagle Academy, which primarily serve Black and Hispanic students. In New York City, Blackcharter school students are nearly 57% more likely to be proficient in English for grades 3-8, and 58% more likely to be proficient in Math for grades 3-8 than their district peers. [NYC Charter School Center, 07/2015; NYC Charter School Center, 9/30/18]
  • The small high schools created by Mike to replace large low-performing large schools increased graduation and college-going rates for low-income students of color.  [MRDC, 06/2014]
  • The CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), intended to help low-income, predominantly minority students complete college faster, more than doubled graduation rates for both proficient students and those with developmental needs. [MRDC, 06/2014]

On housing: 
  • Mike launched the nation’s most ambitious plan to expand affordable housing. The New Housing Marketplace Plan was the largest affordable housing program in the country, building or preserving 175,000 units. This plan led to a $23.6 billion investment in affordable housing across the city.  [Office of the Mayor press release, 12/21/13; NHMP annual report, 2013]

On criminal justice: 
  • At the start of Mike’s tenure, New York City’s incarceration rate was 10% higher than the national average; when he left, it was more than one-third lower than the nation as a whole. [, accessed 1/13/19]
  • The rate of adult incarceration in New York dropped by 39% between 2001 and 2013, while the national rate of incarceration increased.  [, accessed 1/13/19]
  • Under Mike’s leadership, New York City was the safest big city in America: crime fell by more than 32% and murders  were cut in half -- while alternatives to incarceration reduced the number of people behind bars by 39%. 
  • Under Mike’s administration, New York was an early adopter of initiatives like Cure Violence to engage community members directly impacted by a violent event. These interventions reduced retaliatory gun violence in communities traumatized by violent episodes by as much as 50%.
  • Mike joined with NAACP leaders to launch a national campaign against “Stand Your Ground Laws, which came under fire in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin.” [DNAinfo, 4/11/12]

On healthcare: 
  • Between 2001 and 2013, the number of uninsured New Yorkers fell by nearly 50 percent, while Medicaid enrollment increased by 1.3 million individuals, a 71 percent increase. [NY State Dept. of Health, 12/17/19
  • As Mayor, Mike adopted the Nurse-Family Partnership model for low-income pregnant moms, and helped grow NYC’s program into the country’s largest. New York City’s infant mortality rate declined nearly 25 percent between 2001 and 2013, more than the national average. [Nurse-Family Partnership, accessed 12/11/19
  • New York City’s infant mortality rate for Black infants declined 17 percent. [New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Summary of Vital Statistics via Citizens’ Committee For Children of New York, Keeping Track database, accessed 12/28/19; Bureau of Vital Statistics, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 7/19]
  • The largest gains in life expectancy in the City was for non-Hispanic Blacks, adding nearly 4 years to their lifespan, from 73.4 years to 77.3 years. [Summary of Vital Statistics for 2011, 1/2013; Summary of Vital Statistics for 2013, 3/2016]

Bloomberg 2020
January 19, 2020


 Remarks as Delivered in Tulsa

Watch his remarks here.

 – “Before I say good afternoon, I have to apologize to the people in the overflow room. We have more people in the overflow room than we have in the main hall, which is a nice problem to have and a lot better than if we had excess capacity here. So thank you, and hopefully you’ll be able to hear.
“Let me start then by saying good afternoon, and thank you, John, for those moving and inspiring words, and also to Kevin. And I also want to thank you for all your work to make sure that what happened in Greenwood will remain forever in our memories, and be commemorated.
“Exactly one year ago, I came right here to announce that Tulsa had won my foundation’s Public Art Challenge. The Challenge offered funding to cities that proposed public art projects that addressed important civic needs. We received 200 applications, but none more powerful, or more important, than Tulsa’s – thanks to the leadership of Mayor Bynum, the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission, and its chair, Kevin Matthews. So thank you for all of you.
“Tulsa’s proposal told the story of the Greenwood massacre that devastated John Rogers’s family and left a generations-long impact. And even though Greenwood was known as Black Wall Street, it wasn’t full of bankers. It was really just a thriving, upper-middle class community, where people worked hard, played by the rules and believed that they could get ahead.
“In other words, it was just like many other places across this country, except that this was a Black community – and that did not sit well with many white residents in Tulsa.
“The white mob that attacked Greenwood burned 1,200 homes, looted dozens of shops, left nothing but ruins and rubble across 35 blocks, and massacred more than 200 Black residents. But those horrific numbers don’t even begin to do justice to the story.
“I recently read a diary account from someone who was there that night, staying at a Greenwood hotel – possibly the hotel owned by John Rogers's ancestors. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share part of that gentleman's diary account:
“ ‘About mid-night, I arose and went to the north porch on the second floor of my hotel… and I saw the top of Standpipe Hill literally lit up by blazes that came from the throats of machine guns, and I could hear bullets whizzing and cutting the air.
“ ‘Three men—one of whom lugged a heavy trunk on his shoulder—were all killed as they were crossing the street… killed before my very eyes. The man who carried the trunk was very old,’ so the story goes. ‘Likely, he had in that trunk many things of great value… and thought as much of the contents thereof as he did of his own life. When the old man was hit—by a dozen bullets—he dropped his burden and shrieked, and fell sprawling upon the hard pavement. Blood gushed from every wound.
“ ‘I turned my head from the scene,’ the story goes.
“During and after the massacre, there were more than 6,000 arrests – of black residents. Not one white person ever went to jail.
“It was one of the deadliest and ugliest attacks in American history – but like most Americans, I had never heard of it before I came to Tulsa a year ago. And I remember thinking, how is it possible that high schools and colleges don’t teach this event? What was it in the history books that I misread or that I skipped over? But as I came to understand it, it wasn’t just Greenwood.
“Let me ask you, how many of us were taught in school about East St. Louis in 1917 – when a white mob killed more than two dozen Black Americans? Or Elaine, Arkansas in 1919 – when a white mob slaughtered 200 Black sharecroppers who dared to join a labor union? Or Rosewood, Florida in 1923 – when a white mob burned the whole town down?
“In just that short period, 1917 to 1923, more than 1,000 Black Americans were killed by white mobs in cities and towns across the country. But the truth is, what happened during that period was part of a continuum of violence that Black Americans faced, even after the end of slavery – violence that denied them their lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness – the cornerstones of the American dream.
“Just think about the sharecroppers who were cheated out of their fair earnings and sent into debt. They could complain – but not without being thrown off the land. They could report a crime – to the all-white police force. They could take the landlord to court – with its all-white juries. Or petition their elected officials – in all-white legislatures.
“They had nowhere to turn. And Black Americans who were cheated by banks that foreclosed unfairly, faced exactly the same situation. Even when Black Americans managed to use the ballot to win elections and gain power, whites simply took it away, sometimes violently overthrowing the elected government, as white mobs did in places like Louisiana in 1873, and Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898.
“For Black Americans, there was nothing that white landowners, businesses, banks, and politicians might not take: their wages and their homes, their businesses and their wealth, their votes and their power, and even their lives.
“What happened here in Tulsa demonstrates, I think, in incredibly stark relief the violent destruction of a prosperous Black community, and the enormous obstacles that so many Black Americans have faced not only in creating wealth, but in passing assets to their children and grand-children as generations of white families have done, thereby creating wealth.
“Hopefully such mob-led massacres are in our past. But you don’t reverse hundreds of years of theft and exploitation with some modern-day attempt to legislate equal rights, especially when those rights are routinely undermined by racism and inequalities that still exist.
“Now I will admit, I have never been one to look back. My brain is sort of programmed to look ahead. But I ask myself, could I have built my business and enjoyed my success under those conditions? Of course not.
“When I was starting out, I knew that my dealings with vendors, and suppliers, and customers were governed by a set of laws designed to protect me against theft and exploitation. That basic truth – which was critical to my success and to the success of every business in America today – was denied to Black Americans for hundreds of years.
“The 14th Amendment that gave citizenship to Black Americans and overturned the Dred Scott decision was a historic milestone for America, but it was also a dead letter for many of the very people it was meant to protect and empower.
“That’s just a fact – and I’ve always believed in facing facts and following data. If there is one data point that begins to capture the enormity of the legacy that has been handed down to Black Americans, I think it is this: today, the typical Black family in America owns one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family.
“That really is a disgrace – but when you think about it from an economic perspective, the exploitation worked exactly as it was designed to do – slavery, sharecropping, Jim Crow, segregation, and redlining.
“For hundreds of years, America systematically stole Black lives, Black freedom, and Black labor. A theft of labor and a transfer of wealth – enshrined in law and enforced by violence. And the impact of that theft over a period of centuries has meant an enormous loss of wealth for individuals and families across generations, a kind of compound interest in reverse.
“Well, it’s time to say enough – and to damn well do something about it.
“That is why I’ve come back to Tulsa today – because the challenge of African-American wealth creation today is inextricably linked to the racial inequalities of the past, and I’m determined to make breaking that link a centerpiece of my presidency.
“As someone who has been very lucky in life, I often say my story would only have been possible in America – and I think that’s true. But I also know that my story would have turned out very differently if I had been Black, and that more Black Americans of my generation would have ended up with far more wealth had they been white.
“Instead, they have had to struggle to overcome great odds because their families started out further behind, and were excluded from opportunities – in housing, employment, education, and others.
“This weekend, we celebrate the life of Dr. King, and we have to remember that he not only marched for equal rights, he marched for economic justice – because they go hand-in-hand. He knew that equality under the law was only the first step to true equality, and true equality is only achieved when there is no correlation between race and riches.
“Fulfilling Dr. King’s vision of economic equality across all colors is a monumental challenge. But I’m not running for president to do small things – but to do big things that will make a difference.
“That was the approach I took as mayor of New York City – and fighting racial inequalities infused everything that we did then from education and health, to juvenile justice and protecting clean water in every community.
“We made major strides in each of those areas, but much work obviously remains to be done across the country.
“So today, I am proposing a sweeping and ambitious strategy to invest in Black wealth creation and close the racial wealth gap that plagues our country.
“Just think about this: if we could eliminate the racial wealth gap in this generation, we could add $1.5 trillion to the American economy. Everyone would benefit. So what are we waiting for?
“Now, I know something about creating wealth and creating jobs. I did it in business – building a company from scratch that now has 20,000 employees around the world. I did it as mayor, where we helped lead the nation in job creation for 12 years. And I hope to have the chance to do it as your president.
“The strategy we’re announcing today is comprehensive – and inclusive. And it has three big goals. One: we will help a million more Black families buy a house, to counteract the effects of redlining and the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
“Two: we will double the number of Black-owned businesses, which right now are far too few.
“And three: we will help Black families triple their wealth over the next ten years to an all-time high. That will reduce, but not eliminate, the wealth gap between Black and white families – but it will build the momentum we need to close it entirely someday.
“Achieving these goals will help our country begin to confront the legacy of what Frederick Douglass called ‘the sin and shame of America,’ which did not end with Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House, or LBJ’s signing of a civil rights bills a century later, or even the election of our first African-American president.
“The time has come to fully commit ourselves to acknowledging our history and righting our country’s wrongs, and that’s exactly what I will do as president.
“As I told Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, I will support her bill to create a commission to examine the issue of reparations. There is no reason not to study possible remedies – but we also can’t wait for the results.
“So our campaign has sought out ideas and input from members of Congress, mayors and local officials, business leaders, ministers, academics, and community leaders.
“Our plan will empower each group to play an important role, and our work will benefit all Americans who have been subject to discrimination and bias.
“And most importantly, these are not pie in the sky ideas that sound good but will never happen. They are concrete proposals that we can afford and that we can get done – and we will.
“Let me tell you how – and let’s start with homeownership. Last year, homeownership by Black households dropped to its lowest since the 1960s, back when segregated housing was the official U.S. government policy. The fact is, generous federal housing subsidies helped create a white middle class while Black Americans were expressly excluded, crowded into neighborhoods where they were denied credit, and starved of public investment.
“Even after the Fair Housing Act was passed back in 1968, some landlords continued to refuse to rent to African-Americans, which is exactly why the Justice Department sued the Trump Organization.
“Now, it was Donald’s father who built and ran that business in all fairness, and I can’t say what Donald learned from his father – but let me tell you what I learned from my father.
“One of my earliest memories in life was sitting at the kitchen table, watching my father write a check to the NAACP. I remember asking him, ‘Why are you giving money to that organization?’ And I will never forget what he told me. He said, ‘Because discrimination against anyone threatens all of us.’
“I didn’t know at the time, but when my parents moved to the house that I grew up in, the owners wouldn’t sell it to them. They didn’t want a Jewish family in the neighborhood. Lucky for us, our Irish lawyer was willing to buy it and transfer it to my parents. But if my mother and father had been Black, I doubt that we would have been so lucky and we might not have grown up in that neighborhood. My parents knew that owning a home mattered, and that owning a home in communities with good schools mattered even more.
“Every American deserves that opportunity. As president, my administration will provide down-payment assistance to new homebuyers in the form of loans that will be forgiven over time. We’ll require lenders to update their credit-scoring models because millions of Black households don’t have a credit score which is needed to get a mortgage – and that all has to end.
“We’ll reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken fair lending laws. That has to end.
“We’ll provide assistance to families to prevent foreclosures and evictions. Eviction rates can top 30 percent in some cities – and women and children are most often the victims. That has to end.
“We’ll encourage Community Development Financial Institutions, which receive federal support, to increase mortgage-lending for low-cost homes. We’ll offer more incentives to build more affordable housing, as we’ve done in New York. And we’ll offer $10 billion in incentives for local governments to reform zoning restrictions and other obstacles that raise housing costs and block economic mobility.
“Now, let’s turn to our next challenge: doubling the number of Black-owned businesses. Right now, there are only about 120,000 Black-owned businesses with at least one employee across our country. One study found that if people of color owned businesses at the same rates as white entrepreneurs, it would result in nine million more jobs for everybody and an additional $300 billion in income for workers. That’s not just good for those new minority-owned businesses and their employees – that’s good for America.
“To double the number of Black-owned businesses, we’ll start with increasing capital for entrepreneurs in Black communities. I know how important that is. When I got laid off back in 1981, I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I had an idea to start a business – and I was lucky to have enough money to get it started. Most entrepreneurs with good ideas need help to get them off the ground.
“In New York, we increased access to capital for small businesses by making seed-funding available, expanding loans, and connecting entrepreneurs with lenders. We can super-charge that work across the country – and also incentivize private investors to support start-ups in low-income neighborhoods, and improve access to credit through fairer standards, and strengthen enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act to make sure that lenders are investing in areas that need it the most.
“One of the best ways to improve access to capital for Black Americans is to help community banks keep their doors open. Since 2001, the number of African-American community banks has declined by 50 percent. These banks traditionally were the cornerstone of community investment. We need to revive that tradition – and my administration will lead the way by increasing federal deposits in those banks.
“In New York, we used city deposits to help open 20 new bank branches in low-income communities and it made a difference. At the same time, we have to help more people open bank accounts and stop relying on other services that charge outrageously high fees.
“One in five Black adults do not have a bank account, and one way we’ll change that is by making free checking accounts available to people who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. It won’t raise the cost very much.
“To help small businesses keep overhead down, we’ll work with local governments to open small-business incubators and affordable shared workspace, just the way we did in New York. We’ll create a national corps of small business mentors who will support entrepreneurs in communities where there are few small businesses, and I can guarantee that works because it did work.
“And we’ll help minority business owners buy the buildings they’re renting, through down payment assistance. Whether they own a restaurant or a beauty salon or a clothing shop, imagine if they owned the building and could pass that wealth on to their children, the traditional way it's done in America.
“Now, I know starting a business from scratch isn’t easy. But in New York, we set up one-stop shops for entrepreneurs and existing businesses where people could get help writing a business plan, accessing capital, finding space, handling payroll and accounting.
“We can create these one-stop shops across the nation – I know they work, we’ve done it. They’ll also help small companies get certified as a minority- or woman-owned business, which improves their access to government contracts.
“Federal contracts are a $500 billion industry. But incumbents – and I know from my own experience trying to break into that industry is very hard. There’s an awful lot we can do to level the playing field, and I will work to double the value of contracts going to qualified minority-owned small businesses.
“Adding one million more Black homeowners and doubling the number of Black-owned businesses will take us part of the way to our third goal. The third goal is tripling the wealth of Black families. But achieving that goal will require us to do even more. So we will build on a pilot program that President Obama started in communities that suffer high rates of poverty, segregation, and unemployment.
“Our place-based strategy will invest $70 billion in 100 communities around the country. We’ll make those investments through a new neighborhood equity and opportunity office. That office will help communities develop revitalization plans and address the needs – everything from job training to transportation and infrastructure, to helping more people returning from prison find employment. These things work – Obama started it, Trump cancelled it, and we’ve got to bring it back.
“We’ll also increase financing for local residents who are willing to restore derelict homes and make them their own – something we did very effectively where I come from.
“And we’ll form partnerships with local schools to support a cradle-to-career approach by giving schools the resources to conduct a deep level of family and child engagement.
“Now, that starts with prenatal care, and it continues through tutoring and after-school programs, and the college and career application process, and it doesn’t end until students complete college or training and get a job acceptance letter.
“Making sure that all children get the education and support they need to succeed is essential to creating more economic opportunity. And so across this country, we'll expand Head Start and Early Head Start, and reform juvenile justice programs so we can break the school-to-prison pipeline.
“In New York, we cut incarceration rates in jails and prison by 40 percent – in part by reducing crime and stopping gun violence, which kills so many Black and Latino young men.
“Now, as all of you know, in my determination to reduce gun violence, we employed a common big-city police practice called stop and frisk, and that resulted in far too many innocent people being stopped.
“When I realized that, we took action. And by the time I left office, we had finally cut stops by 95 percent. But as I have said, I was wrong not to act faster and sooner to cut the stops, and I’ve apologized to New Yorkers for that, and for not better understanding the impact it was having on Black and Latino communities.
“I’ve always believed, though, that leadership involves listening to diverse opinions, and acknowledging when you didn’t get them right, and learning from it. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.
“And as president, I will continue to make criminal justice reform a top priority, as I’ve done in my philanthropy, because I can’t think of anything more destructive to building wealth than sitting in prison – especially for young people.
“In New York, we made sure that every child went to a top-quality school, no matter what zip code they lived in. And we cut the racial achievement gap by a quarter.
“We also invested in the young people facing the gravest risk – Black and Latino young men. We created a program called the Young Men’s Initiative to close racial and ethnic disparities in education, employment, health, and the justice system.
“Before I left office, we began to see promising results, and we were thrilled when President Obama built on our work to create his own program, called My Brother’s Keeper. As president, I will build it out further – and reach even more people in need.
“We’ll also recruit more Black and Latino teachers, as we did in New York City, because studies show they can make all the difference, and having a role model at the front of the class is one of the best investments we can make.
“We’ll make public colleges tuition-free for all low-income students – and we’ll double the size of Pell grants. It will be one of the best investments we could possibly make.
“We’ll forgive college loans for students who were exploited by failed for-profit colleges. We'll do it by reviving a successful Obama administration program that cleared their debts. This has already been done, but then it was cancelled.
“And we'll also invest much more in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, because many of the HBCUs are struggling. Those colleges serve only 10 percent of Black students, but listen to this, their graduates make up some 40 percent of all Black teachers, 60 percent of all Black engineers, 70 percent of all Black doctors and dentists, and over 80 percent of Black judges. That really is an incredible record of achievement.
“And incidentally, President Trump promised to support them – but he broke that promise, like virtually every other promise he’s made.
“I’ve been helping more students afford college for years, and as president, I will make sure that HBCUs have the resources not just to survive, but to grow.
“There’s one other education initiative I want to mention. I know curriculum is not a federal issue, it's a state and local issue. But we’ll incentivize states and localities to create financial literacy classes.
“These classes, which we need for every ethnicity all across the country, will prepare young people across the country to manage their money and introduce them to the financial services industry, as John Rogers has been doing in Chicago. As John and I know, there is a great deal of wealth in the financial industry, but nowhere near enough diversity – and changing that starts in our public schools.
“There’s one other curriculum change that we will encourage, and I think it’s long overdue: I believe that all students should be taught the history of slavery from the experience of enslaved people, and the history of places like Greenwood, because Black history is American history.
“Now, I started this speech by talking about what was stolen from Black Americans over generations because it has been buried and denied for far too long. But let me close with something else we don’t talk about enough: the incredible contributions that Black Americans have made to our country, even as they knew they would be deprived of their fair share of the rewards.
“From our country’s first days, Black Americans found hope – and kept faith – in the promise of equality embedded in the Declaration of Independence. And when war came, as it did in every generation, they signed up to fight on the front lines.
“To me, there are no greater patriots in America’s long history than the Black citizens who were willing to die for a nation that was denying them their rights. I’ve got to think it was in hopes that their service and sacrifice might redeem those rights for their children and grandchildren. I hope I would’ve been as selfless and magnanimous as they were.
“The redemption that they sought for future generations is still far from complete. The crimes against Black Americans still echo across the centuries, and no single law can wipe that slate clean. Not here in Tulsa, or anywhere else.
“But I believe that this is a country where anything is possible. And I believe that we have the power to build a future where color and capital are no longer related. That is the future I want to leave my grandchildren – and that is the future that I will work for and build as president.
“So on this holiday weekend, let’s rededicate ourselves to the words Dr. King spoke on his final day on this Earth in Memphis. He said, ‘We can get more together than we can apart.’
“That is true in the workplace. It is true in politics. It is true in life. And I am ready to roll up my sleeves, bring people together, and make it true for all America.
“Thank you, and God bless.”