For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
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For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

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For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

For the past week or so, Donald Trump has been talking a lot about African-Americans and the problems he sees in their communities. And when he talks about black voters, he asks this question over and over.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: What do you have to lose?

MCEVERS: That's Trump in Tampa this afternoon. Tonight he campaigns in a predominantly black city, Jackson, Miss. NPR's Sarah McCammon has spent the past day there asking African-Americans what they think.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Like a lot of people's grandmas, Flonzie Brown-Wright keeps a candy jar in her living room which is also adorned with potted plants and family photos.

FLONZIE BROWN-WRIGHT: I got a jar of jellybeans. I thought I had it. I got a jar of jellybeans, and...

MCCAMMON: For Brown-Wright, this jar is a reminder of the absurd questions, questions with no real answers that she and other African-Americans had to answer before registering to vote in Mississippi in the 1960s.

BROWN-WRIGHT: How many jellybeans in a pound of candy?

MCCAMMON: No idea.

BROWN-WRIGHT: No idea. You know it. How many feathers are on a chicken? How many - and I got a bar of soap somewhere. How many bubbles in a bar of soap?

MCCAMMON: At 74, Brown-Wright now gives workshops on voting rights at local colleges. She's not pleased with the current political climate she says Donald Trump is fostering.

BROWN-WRIGHT: It's been in my lifetime that I could not register and vote freely. And so when I contrast the then and the now, in many respects, this is not what we really fought for in terms of the animus and rallies and all of that.

MCCAMMON: She says Trump is painting African-American communities with a broad brush and insulting black voters with his rhetoric, which she calls a joke.

BROWN-WRIGHT: And when he said, oh, your schools are no good, is that a way to get a vote? You have no jobs - just so condescending.

MCCAMMON: A much younger generation of black activists in Jackson seem to feel the same about the Republican nominee and his question, what do you have to lose?

AVERY BROWN: We have a lot to lose (laughter). I mean I guess there's this notion that we're already so far on the bottom that can't go any further down.

MCCAMMON: Avery Brown is a senior at Jackson State University and an intern working on a voter registration drive at the Mississippi NAACP.

BROWN: And for him to say that he just wants to make black community better but while at the same time putting us down, it doesn't add up. You can't make someone better by telling them that they aren't worth anything or that they don't have anything to lose.

MCCAMMON: At the NAACP office in Jackson this morning, several pastors and local leaders held a press conference to denounce Trump, accusing him of spreading intolerance and being slow to disavow white supremacist support.

PERCY GLASPER: Bacon, egg, over easy.

MCCAMMON: On the other side of the city, Percy Glasper was working in the kitchen at Fred's Soul Food restaurant. Glasper, who's also African-American, says he's not offended by Trump.

GLASPER: Behind closed doors, that man go back, look what he say, and he laugh at what he say. You know what I'm saying? He only feeding to the media 'cause that's what they like, only make his rating go up, you know? And you know when you in front of the camera, you know, you do anything to get your shine on. You know what I'm saying?

MCCAMMON: Glasper is 40 and a father of four. He wears a hairnet and white apron as he stands outside the restaurant.

GLASPER: I doubt if I vote 'cause I voted for Obama in the last election, and me personally, I ain't seen no result. I voted for Bush at every election. I still didn't see no results. So forever I got to get it myself.

MCCAMMON: Glasper says he just wants to make enough money to get out of Mississippi, take his kids on some trips and see the world or at least St. Louis. Glasper says he doesn't think any president will do much to improve his life. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Jackson.

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