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'Mayor Pete' at Atlanta’s Morehouse College unveils college tuition program supporting minority students

Pete Buttigieg, climbing in the polls of Democrats running for president, is working to earn African-American support.

ATLANTA — Monday night, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig campaigned for African-American votes at Morehouse College, unveiling a plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars toward tuition at minority colleges.

The stump speech - from one of the now-top-tier candidates - came just 48 hours ahead of the Democratic Presidential debate in Atlanta.

The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana walked into a skeptical but receptive crowd at Morehouse.

Students from Morehouse, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, filled the auditorium, there to learn about what Buttigieg wants to do - including for students needing help with college tuition, costs and debt.

Buttigieg, at 37, is the youngest of the presidential candidates.

RELATED: Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits Morehouse in effort to build black support

He can claim relatively little African-American support across the country, so far—and Monday night found him working to change that.

Buttigieg unveiled $500 billion program to help students pay for college—specifically historically black colleges and institutions that primarily serve minorities. Not free tuition, but needs-based aid.

“So that more students are able to leave college with a degree instead of debt,” Buttigieg said.

And he asked students to look up, on his campaign website, details of what he is calling his Frederick Douglass plan for America, what he calls “The most ambitious vision and the most comprehensive vision put forward on dismantling systemic racism in the United States.”

RELATED: Democratic debate in Atlanta: Everything you need to know

Buttigieg spoke with students one-on-one, shaking hands and posing for photos with them. 

Credit: Tyson Paul / WXIA
Pete Buttigieg at Morehouse

Morehouse student John Gray took the opportunity to tell Buttigieg that he appreciates his outreach, but told him he needs more specifics from Buttigieg.

“He has disappointed a lot of younger people who want more concrete plans,” Gray told 11Alive. “I feel like he still didn’t say enough to kind of disprove any of that for me.”

Gray and many others said after the program, they’re willing to give Buttigieg a second look.

RELATED: Centrists Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar headline Democratic pre-debate events in Atlanta

“Not all candidates care about black people as much, and I feel like he actually cares,” said Alexandria Jolivet, a Clark Atlanta student.

“It’s so important to reach voters where they are and [I’m] honored that we could roll out our higher education plan right here at Morehouse,” Buttigieg told reporters.

The Atlanta University Center is a popular stop for Democrats running for president, and Buttigieg told the students Monday night that the road to the White House goes through Morehouse.

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