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N.A.A.C.P. Tells Local Chapters: Don’t Let Energy Industry Manipulate You

Westlake Legal Group 00naacp1-facebookJumbo N.A.A.C.P. Tells Local Chapters: Don’t Let Energy Industry Manipulate You Politics and Government Philanthropy National Assn for the Advancement of Colored People Lobbying and Lobbyists Florida Power&Light Co Florida Electric Light and Power Blacks Alternative and Renewable Energy

When utilities around the country have wanted to build fossil-fuel plants, defeat energy-efficiency proposals or slow the growth of rooftop solar power, they have often turned for support to a surprisingly reliable ally: a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In 2014, the top officials of the N.A.A.C.P.’s Florida division threw their organization’s weight behind an effort to stymie the spread of solar panels on residential rooftops and cut energy efficiency standards at the behest of the energy industry. The group’s Illinois chapter joined a similar industry effort in 2017. And in January 2018, the N.A.A.C.P.’s top executive in California signed a letter opposing a government program that encourages the use of renewable energy.

Most Americans know the N.A.A.C.P. as a storied civil rights organization that has fought for equal access to public facilities, fairness in housing and equality in education. But on energy policy, many of its chapters have for years advanced the interests of energy companies that are big donors to their programs. Often this advocacy has come at the expense of the black neighborhoods, which are more likely to have polluting power plants and are less able to adapt to climate change.

The activities of the N.A.A.C.P. chapters, which operate with significant autonomy, have so unnerved the group’s national office that it published a report titled the “Top 10 Manipulation Tactics of the Fossil Fuel Industry” in April. It is also sending its staff to state and local chapters to persuade them to fight for policies that reduce pollution and improve public health even at the risk of losing donations from utilities and fossil fuel companies.

From New Orleans to San Diego, consumer and environmental groups have criticized power companies for using their largess in minority communities to get church pastors, nonprofit groups and organizations like the N.A.A.C.P. to back industry objectives.

“The utilities have essentially asked communities of color to be props for them,” said William Funderburk Jr., an environmental lawyer and former board member of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. “It appears utilities are turning back the clock a hundred years.”

From 2013 to 2017, 10 of the country’s largest utilities gave about $1 billion in donations. Those contributions often went to groups representing minority communities, and many of the recipients promoted the interests of utilities in front of government regulators, according to the Energy Policy Institute, an environmental group.

The N.A.A.C.P. has a long record on environmental issues, including fighting to reduce the health threats posed by lead paint and asbestos. But its national office has been slower to stake a clear position on climate change and the pollution caused by power plants. It established a group dedicated to environmental justice only a decade ago.

Derrick Johnson, the N.A.A.C.P.’s president, said the group had established a department dedicated to that work that is larger than any of its other programs, with 11 full-time staff members and three consultants.

“We care about the education of our children,” Mr. Johnson said. “But if the children are in unhealthy environments, we know that it impedes their learning. We care about health and access to health care, so we must care about the decisions that create mega health impacts.”

As solar panels and other renewable energy sources tumbled in price in recent years, making them attractive alternatives to coal and natural gas in power plants, electric utilities in Florida began pressing regulators and lawmakers to limit their growth.

Rooftop solar in particular posed a threat to the utilities. When the electric grid was designed, engineers did not foresee that consumers would generate their own power and even sell it to the utilities. That could reduce revenue for the companies.

Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and other utilities argued that as more affluent homeowners installed solar panels and reduced their reliance on the electric grid, lower-income residents would be forced to pay higher rates to maintain power lines. Many energy experts have disputed that argument, saying energy-efficiency programs and increasingly affordable solar panels can reduce electricity costs for low-income households. But utilities have successfully made their case around the country, often with the help of the N.A.A.C.P. and other nonprofit groups that are advocates for communities of color.

In Florida, utilities found a ready partner — for a time — in Adora Nweze, the president of the N.A.A.C.P.’s Florida conference. She and her staff repeated industry talking points in newspaper opinion articles, written comments to state regulators and testimony in public hearings.

Utilities often sought the group’s support around the time that the state conference was in the middle of raising money for programs and its annual gathering, held in September, Ms. Nweze said.

Invoices obtained by The New York Times show that Florida Power & Light gave the N.A.A.C.P. at least $225,000 from 2013 to 2017 and that Duke Energy gave $25,000. Florida Power & Light’s annual donations doubled in 2014 just as the utility was pressing state regulators to restrict rooftop solar power and weaken the state’s energy efficiency goals.

For example, the N.A.A.C.P.’s Florida conference issued a $50,000 invoice to the utility on Sept. 11, 2014, a couple of months after Ms. Nweze wrote an essay in The Tallahassee Democrat opposing a solar-energy rebate program and in support of a utility-backed change to state efficiency goals.

“In many cases, nonparticipants tend to be the poor, creating a shockingly inequitable situation in which high-income households capture all of the benefits while low-income households shoulder all of the costs,” the essay said. Ms. Nweze said her staff wrote that article and similar ones, often copying verbatim from text sent by Florida Power & Light and other utilities.

In addition to the article, the conference filed comments with the state Public Service Commission. The commission later cited those comments in ruling for the utilities. The commission reduced the state’s energy-efficiency goals by about 90 percent.

The utilities’ policy victory in the 2014 case has had a lasting impact.

Florida utilities have some of the country’s least ambitious energy-efficiency goals. The Sunshine State also trails several states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, in how much electricity it gets from solar panels.

Florida Power & Light declined to answer questions about its work with the N.A.A.C.P.’s state conference and other civil rights organizations. The utility said its primary focus had been to keep electricity rates as low as possible.

“We are proud of our longstanding relationship with the N.A.A.C.P. and of our ability to constructively work together on issues that benefit customers,” said Alys Daly, a company spokeswoman.

In an interview, Ms. Nweze said she had signed on because of the utilities’ financial support to her group, and because she believed what executives had told her about solar panels and energy efficiency.

“I felt that if we wanted the money, we had to do it,” she said. “The shortcoming on my part was that I didn’t have the necessary knowledge to know that it was a problem.”

Ms. Nweze, 77, said she decided about two years ago that her advocacy for the utilities was wrong. That was when the N.A.A.C.P.’s national office worked with her conference on a report about the impact that climate change and pollution have on low-income families. The report concluded that seven power plants had a disproportionate impact on people of color. It also found that Latino adults in Florida had the highest prevalence of asthma at some time in their lives and that African-American adolescents were the most likely to have ongoing asthma.

Jacqueline Patterson played an important role in Ms. Nweze’s conversion. Once focused on becoming a teacher, Ms. Patterson, 51, became interested in environmental issues while in Jamaica as a Peace Corps volunteer, in New Orleans as a relief worker after Hurricane Katrina and in sub-Saharan Africa as an official of a nonprofit group that works on health issues.

She often found that local residents were not involved in the discussions when officials debated and decided environmental and energy policy — white men frequently had the final say.

“What struck me after all of that was the number of rooms I went into where I was the only person of color,” Ms. Patterson said. “Too often, we’re just completely not there.”

As Ms. Patterson began recognizing the need for more African-Americans in the climate-change debate, so did the N.A.A.C.P.

The organization saw a growing need to address climate change and clean energy when it was drawn into a debate over a climate bill in Congress in 2009.

A lobbying firm working for the coal industry, Bonner & Associates, had sent out letters opposing the measure that seemed to be from the N.A.A.C.P.’s chapter in Charlottesville, Va. The group’s national office, in Baltimore, felt it had to make clear that it supported the legislation, which would have established a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Jack Bonner, the founder of Bonner & Associates, declined to comment.

Then the organization began digging deeper, creating an environmental justice program and appointing Ms. Patterson to lead it.

Under her leadership, the group began connecting the dots between climate change and the impact of disasters like Katrina on African-American communities. The group also took a closer look at how rising sea levels and more intense storms might affect low-income, minority neighborhoods. And it started examining how air pollution from power plants affected nearby residents, many of them black.

“Seeing all of those intersections and more, we really saw this as a civil rights issue,” Ms. Patterson said. “The N.A.A.C.P. is now engaging around pushing for policies and pushing for access to clean energy.”

One of her priorities, Ms. Patterson said, is to educate state conferences and chapters. A milestone was the 2017 report with its Florida conference, which got the state organization to reverse its position on solar panels, energy efficiency and other clean-energy programs.

“I looked at it differently than I do now,” Ms. Nweze said. “The more you look at the issue, you realize this isn’t really working.”

But the national N.A.A.C.P. message has not found traction in every state.

The president of the group’s Illinois conference, Teresa Haley, said that her group typically got $5,000 to $10,000 a year from the energy industry and that the money did not influence the group’s activities. “They do have their lobbyist who contacts us and says, ‘We need your support.’”

Ms. Haley added that her group’s local branches held votes on which initiatives they support, sometimes backing utilities and sometimes opposing them. In 2012, for example, the Chicago branch successfully fought to close two coal-fired power plants in minority neighborhoods.

In California, the N.A.A.C.P. conference has more consistently taken positions that align with those of the state’s largest utilities.

Alice Huffman, the president of that state conference, has signed letters opposing government-run electricity providers known as Community Choice Aggregation, which allow consumers to choose solar power and wind with lower rates while leaving billing and transmission in the hands of investor-owned utilities. Ms. Huffman and the heads of other nonprofit organizations joined the utilities in sending a letter to state regulators contending that those programs could shift more of the grid’s cost to those who could least afford it. Studies have found that those in community choice programs typically have lower electric bills, but that state fees charged for grid maintenance could hurt low-income customers.

California’s three investor-owned utilities have donated about $180,000 to the N.A.A.C.P.’s state conference and its local chapters over the last five years, the companies said. Ms. Huffman and her conference did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Funderburk, the environmental lawyer, said the utility donations pressured nonprofit organizations to support the industry in ways undisclosed to members and the public.

“The only way to get real equity is to make things much more transparent,” he said.

Ms. Patterson said the N.A.A.C.P. was working on alternative revenue sources for chapters that stood to lose financial support from utilities.

In Florida, Ms. Nweze said that she realized that reversing support for fossil-fuel interests could jeopardize the state conference’s funding, but that she could no longer ignore the effect of climate change on her members.

“I’m not naïve,” she said. “I’m concerned, but I’m more concerned about the impact on the lives of the people throughout the country and this state in particular.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pete Buttigieg Quit Playing Nice. Will He Pay for It at the Debate?

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165421269_b08462b2-ab03-4621-a3b5-3d52ea2247a4-facebookJumbo Pete Buttigieg Quit Playing Nice. Will He Pay for It at the Debate? Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Iowa Democratic Party Debates (Political) Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — Before he began his presidential campaign, Mayor Pete Buttigieg called his political following the “Happy Warrior Movement,” a label intended to convey an upbeat and collaborative striving for ambitious goals.

That call for unity became a signature part of Mr. Buttigieg’s bid for the White House. In the September debate, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., interrupted a testy exchange between former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the former housing secretary Julián Castro to warn that going on the attack against fellow Democrats would be counterproductive.

“This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington, scoring points against each other, poking at each other, and telling each other that — my plan, your plan,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “Look, we all have different visions for what is better.”

One week later, though, Mr. Buttigieg shifted his approach. He called Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts “evasive” on her plans for paying for “Medicare for all,” kicking off a monthslong clash between the Harvard graduate and the former Harvard Law professor.

For Mr. Buttigieg, the strategy of going on the attack has largely worked. He didn’t cement his place in the top tier of the Democratic primary until he became more aggressive.

His aides say they have been successful in drawing Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into advantageous policy fights on free college and eliminating private health insurance, which Mr. Buttigieg opposes. And in Iowa, where Democrats famously say they don’t like negative campaigning, Mr. Buttigieg has not been punished for going on the attack — in fact, he has been rewarded.

But on Thursday, Mr. Buttigieg may be in for some payback. As the polling leader in Iowa, the first caucus state, he is likely to draw substantial fire from most of the six other Democrats debating onstage at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

If so, it would be Mr. Buttigieg’s first experience as the primary punching bag, an honor that has gone to Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren in previous debates.

During the November debate, a sleepy affair in Atlanta, Mr. Buttigieg largely got a pass from his rivals. But since then he has been the subject of attacks from Ms. Warren on his fund-raising practices, from Mr. Sanders on health care policy and from other Democrats skeptical of his post-college work for the McKinsey consulting firm and his ability to appeal to African-American voters.

Since September Mr. Buttigieg has mounted a sustained onslaught — most of it aimed at Ms. Warren, but also against Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden, with occasional shots at other candidates now far beneath him in the polls.

“His pressures on Warren and some of the farther left policies is expanding the Democratic base, allowing some more moderate people to feel like they have a voice in this race,” said Bryce Smith, the Democratic Party chairman in Dallas County, Iowa.

Mr. Buttigieg’s attacks coincided with his shift to the political center away from the more progressive proposals that powered the earlier days of his campaign.

But they have also dovetailed with a growing resentment from rival candidates as they have seen him surpass them in the polls.

Like Barack Obama in 2008, Mr. Buttigieg aims to emit a spirit of optimism enmeshed in a negative campaign. (Mr. Obama’s push for “change” applied equally to George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton.)

Meanwhile, his record appealing to African-American voters has come under increasing scrutiny, testing his electability in a contest in which beating President Trump is of utmost importance to Democratic voters.

Here’s a look at how Mr. Buttigieg has gone after his leading rivals, and what they have said in response.

Mr. Buttigieg has leaned into his attacks against Ms. Warren with more enthusiasm than any other rival. In Iowa, the two are fighting for a similar bloc of voters — college-educated whites who are paying close attention to the campaign. As a result, the contrasts he has crafted with her have been more charged and personal than any other conflict in the campaign.

Back in September, Mr. Buttigieg began attacking Ms. Warren as “evasive” because she hadn’t yet released details of her health care plans.

Within a span of three days in October he got under the skin of the Warren campaign with two distinct attacks. On the eve of the CNN/New York Times debate, he belittled Ms. Warren’s policy of not holding closed-door high-dollar fund-raisers by saying Democrats won’t defeat Mr. Trump with “pocket change.” Then after the debate he told CNN that “last night she was more specific and forthcoming about the number of selfies she’s taken than about how this plan is going to be funded.”

By November, after Ms. Warren had released the health care details Mr. Buttigieg had called for, he said “the math is certainly controversial” in one interview and in another called her plan “divisive.”

After refraining for months from by-name counterattacks — without naming Mr. Buttigieg, she had argued in early November that “consultant-driven campaigns” were sure losers — and watching Mr. Buttigieg surpass her in Iowa polls, Ms. Warren had finally had enough. Earlier this month, at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, she demanded that Mr. Buttigieg allow reporters into his closed-door fund-raisers.

“Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said,” Ms. Warren told reporters in Boston. “No one should be left to wonder what kind of promises are being made to the people that then pony up big bucks to be in the room.”

Four days later the Buttigieg campaign announced he would allow reporters into his fund-raising events and release a list of campaign bundlers.

She has since moved on to attacking Mr. Buttigieg’s “Medicare for all who want it” health care proposal, which would keep in place the existing health insurance industry Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have pledged to dismantle.

“His plan is not offering full health care coverage to anyone,” she told reporters in Iowa on Monday. “His plan is still about high deductibles, about fees, about co-pays and about uncovered expenses. What I’m offering is full health care coverage.”

When he was 18, Mr. Buttigieg wrote an award-winning essay lauding Mr. Sanders. When he joined the presidential race, Mr. Sanders was among the first rivals he attacked, saying in an April interview that Mr. Sanders couldn’t win a general election.

By September, Mr. Buttigieg was denouncing the “Sanders-Warren vision” of health care in TV interviews, then promoting that contrast in digital ads on his Twitter feed.

His Iowa TV ads in September for the first time mentioned Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren by name. More recently, he suggested in a CBS News interview that his past praise for Mr. Sanders was merely a product of his youth.

“You know, the Sanders campaign definitely has more young voters,” he told CBS. “I was a big fan of Bernie Sanders when I was 18 years old.”

And last week Mr. Buttigieg repeated a suggestion he first made during the summer that the Medicare for all proposal that Mr. Sanders has championed for years would put millions of insurance industry employees out of work. He made the accusation during an interview with Rachel Maddow in which he defended his time working as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company.

“There are some voices in the Democratic primary right now who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

Like Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders had avoided firing back at Mr. Buttigieg until recently, preferring to let online allies like Jacobin magazine do that work for him. But last weekend in Iowa Mr. Sanders fired a shot of his own, saying Mr. Buttigieg wishes to preserve an unfair health care system.

“If you maintain a system where millions of people continue to get their private, their insurance from their employers, the average worker in America making about $60,000 a year is paying $12,000 for their health care,” Mr. Sanders told a crowd in Burlington, Iowa. “That’s 20 percent of somebody’s income. If Buttigieg or anyone else wants to maintain that system, I think that is really unfair to the working families of this country.”

Mr. Buttigieg has made fewer direct attacks on Mr. Biden than on his more progressive rivals. The two share a base of older voters, and each has sought to chart a more moderate path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Instead, Mr. Buttigieg, 37, has drawn an implicit contrast with the 77-year-old former vice president. He speaks about forging a new political era and dismisses long-tenured Washington politicians as part of the nation’s problems he aims to solve.

At the same time Mr. Buttigieg, who has demonstrated scant support among black voters for his campaign, has dismissed Mr. Biden’s long connections with the African-American community.

In November, he told donors at a California fund-raiser that black voters were sticking with Mr. Biden because of “familiarity” and not because he is “the candidate with the best answers on the subject of race,” according to a report in The Intercept. Weeks later, speaking to Fox News, he said Mr. Biden’s edge with black voters was not “permanent.”

Mr. Biden, who has a tendency to be condescending to younger people who question his record, has so far refrained from calling Mr. Buttigieg a young whippersnapper.

But on his campaign bus in Iowa this month, Mr. Biden told reporters that Mr. Buttigieg “stole” his health care plans and suggested that reporters had gone soft on the South Bend mayor.

“What would you have done to me?” Mr. Biden asked. “You’d have torn my ears off.”

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Burlington, Iowa.

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Study Examines Why Black Americans Remain Scarce in Executive Suites

Westlake Legal Group 08blackpros4-facebookJumbo Study Examines Why Black Americans Remain Scarce in Executive Suites Workplace Environment Race and Ethnicity Millennial Generation discrimination Corporations Center for Talent Innovation Blacks Appointments and Executive Changes

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It is no secret that the corporate world has a diversity problem. A company where everyone brings fresh and exciting ideas to the table and has an equal opportunity to succeed is the dream for many executives, and a lack of diversity in the top ranks consistently places high on the list of roadblocks keeping that dream from being realized.

When it comes to African-Americans in the corporate world, the situation looks especially grim. Only four companies in the Fortune 500 — Merck & Co., TIAA, Tapestry and Lowe’s — now have a black chief executive, down from seven less than a decade ago.

Experts are scratching their heads about why corporate efforts to bring more women into the executive ranks have made progress in recent years, while increased racial diversity has remained stubbornly out of reach. But a new report makes clear that current methods are either accomplishing too little or are not working at all.

The report, “Being Black in Corporate America,” comes from the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit group that is focused on workplace diversity and is sponsored by large companies including Morgan Stanley, Pfizer and Disney. The center surveyed 3,736 full-time professionals of all races, and found that today’s diversity and inclusion efforts are failing African-American professionals.

If corporate America wants to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace, the report concludes, it needs not a band-aid but an intervention. Here are highlights of what the authors say is at stake.

The study found that only 8 percent of people employed in white-collar professions are black, and the proportion falls sharply at higher rungs of the corporate ladder, especially when jumping from middle management to the executive level.

Doubts about the effectiveness of current diversity and inclusion programs are driving more black professionals to give up on the corporate ladder and pursue autonomy and their own businesses instead.

“Despite being ambitious, having strong professional networks and being career driven, black professionals face slow career advancement, which makes them more likely to leave,” the report notes.

The study found generational differences in those attitudes. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tended to be more comfortable with the status quo than millennials.

According to the survey, black millennials are more likely than the black professionals who came before them to feel they have a responsibility to represent their race, and they are more likely to feel they should bring their authentic selves to the office.

They are also more likely to be dreaming about leaving their current job if the one they have does not offer fair and ample opportunities for growth, creating the risk of a costly brain drain.

Black professionals do not want to be lumped under the umbrella of “people of color.” Not only does it flatten their experience within the wider pool of underrepresented groups, the study says, it assumes that all black people in the workplace experience it the same way.

The black immigrant population in the United States has increased fivefold since 1980, and black immigrants often have different perspectives than American-born black people on what it means to be black in America. According to the report, white people tend to prefer and give better opportunities to Afro-Caribbeans over African-Americans, and African-Americans are more likely than immigrants from Africa to say that colleagues have underestimated their intelligence.

Full-time professionals of Afro-Caribbean descent are more likely than those with African or African-American roots to have access to senior corporate leaders, the study found. “Heritage shapes black professionals’ experience of the workplace in profound ways,” the report says, contributing to hierarchies that are rarely discussed.

A Pew Research Center survey this year found that half of white Americans agreed with the statement, “There is too much attention paid to race and racial issues in our country these days.” The new study cites that finding repeatedly to reinforce one of its major points: that while most black professionals are keenly aware of inequities that slow their advancement, many of their white peers are largely ignorant of them.

Black professionals surveyed for the new study were more likely than white professionals to say that the primary beneficiaries of diversity and inclusion efforts have been white women. And “very few respondents — including white employees — think that white women are using their power to advocate for other underrepresented groups,” the report notes.

The study argues that the measures that have achieved some success in addressing gender discrimination in the workplace may not work on racial discrimination, in part because white employees tend not to understand the challenges faced by black co-workers as well as they do those faced by women.

“Focusing on women first echoes Angela Davis’s account of the history of the feminist movement, in which white women consistently deprioritized issues of race,” the report notes, referring to the longtime political activist, academic and author.

Race is still a “third rail” — an unwelcome and dangerous subject — in many corporate settings, the study says. Employee resource groups may offer a safe space for black professionals and other underrepresented groups to talk about workplace issues, the authors say, but too often that is where the conversations end.

Black employees go back to their desks feeling that the burden remains on them to make white co-workers comfortable with their presence and aware of their unique experiences, the authors say, and black employees are still asked to “offer solutions to solve their own problems.”

The study recommends that companies conduct audits of how black employees are faring and feeling, and then take steps to address “mismatches in perception of racial equality” between employees of different races. That, the authors argue, will lay the necessary groundwork for the company’s diversity and inclusion programs to be more successful.

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What Does This Country Demand of Black Women in Politics?

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165011958_da739378-20bc-42fc-948f-a0df7fc16c5e-facebookJumbo What Does This Country Demand of Black Women in Politics? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government Race and Ethnicity Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Moseley Braun, Carol Harris, Kamala D Elections, Mayors Chisholm, Shirley Breed, London Blacks

WASHINGTON — The first black woman to be elected mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, considers Senator Kamala Harris something of a political soul mate. When Ms. Harris announced her White House bid in Oakland, Calif., in January, Ms. Breed was one of the 20,000 supporters there loudly celebrating, and she endorsed the campaign from the beginning.

But in the days since Ms. Harris dropped out of the race last week, Ms. Breed has been reflecting on the moments that were less celebratory, like the questions that continually dogged Ms. Harris about whether a black woman could win.

They are questions Ms. Breed has heard herself. When she first considered making her first bid for elected office at age 37, with a run for the San Francisco board of supervisors in 2012, several people urged her to go for a lower position or move to another district, one with a larger African-American population.

The message then — and now — was clear to her: Limit your sights. There’s only so much a black woman in politics can do.

“I keep going back to a lot of people telling me there’s no way I can win in my district, they thought I could never get elected to my seat,” she said. “Why is it more natural for a white man to be electable than an African-American woman?”

Ms. Breed is far from alone in wondering what Ms. Harris’s aborted run means for the political standing of black women in Democratic politics. The California senator’s decision to exit the race before the first round of voting has sparked an emotional reckoning, as the small sorority of prominent elected black female officials, strategists and candidates find themselves grappling with how Ms. Harris fell from a top contender to near the bottom of the pack, why she failed to attract black supporters and wondering what it will take for one of them to not only run, but also win, the White House.

For the first time in their political lives, many saw their own identity reflected in Ms. Harris’s bid, in the photos of her as a young girl in braids, her membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, her stories of being bused into a white school district and her drum line dance moves.

They also saw in her effort a Democratic Party establishment unwilling to fully back its candidacies, even as black women remain the party’s most loyal supporters. And they saw confirmation of how much more difficult it can be for a black woman to raise money from people who like her but just aren’t convinced she should be — or could be elected — president.

Representative Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland, said the possibility of an all-white slate of top-tier candidates — and the likelihood of an entirely white roster at this month’s presidential debate — after Ms. Harris’s exit from the race demonstrates a lack of respect for black women at the highest levels.

“The issues that will be brought up will not be brought up from a black woman’s perspective,” said Ms. Lee, who was one of Ms. Harris’ campaign co-chairs. “We’ve elected everyone to office, so why shouldn’t we be the commander in chief?”

While Ms. Harris’s bid wasn’t a historic first, her candidacy was groundbreaking for how seriously her effort was taken by the political establishment. The third black woman to run for the White House, she cast her campaign in the direct shadow of the first, opening her effort with a red-and-yellow logo that was a nod to Shirley Chisholm’s bid.

“She broke a glass ceiling for women of color,” said Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat from California and the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “There will be more African-American women running in the next presidential race. Maybe it will even be Kamala herself.”

Supporters acknowledge that many of the problems faced by Ms. Harris’s presidential campaign were self-inflicted, having little do to with her race or gender. They list failings like strategic miscalculations that had her ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire for the first months of the race, a lack of leadership within her operation and an inability to articulate a consistent rationale for her candidacy. Her critics argue that those missteps suggested to voters that Ms. Harris was unprepared for the presidency, lending credence to arguments questioning her electability.

But her supporters note that she faced a level of scrutiny that unsuccessful white male candidates, like former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, seemed to escape.

“There was a particular focus on her, which just speaks to the double standard that all women candidates and candidates of color face,” said Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC focused on African-American Democrats, who is unaffiliated in the race. “That scrutinizing of missteps in the campaign isn’t applied equally.”

While record-breaking numbers of black women were elected to Congress last year, they have struggled to break into higher positions. A black woman has never served as governor, and only two have served in the Senate, Ms. Harris and Carol Moseley Braun, of Illinois.

Last year, Stacey Abrams, of Georgia, became the first black woman to win her party’s nomination for governor in United States history.

Within the limited academic research detailing the barriers black women face, there is a broad consensus that there are additional obstacles. Their efforts can become a circle of self-defeat: Political strategists, party leaders and donors doubt whether they can win majority-white areas, so they don’t support their bid. Because they don’t have early support, it creates more skepticism of their candidacy from the political establishment.

Aides who worked on Ms. Abrams’s campaign said they waged a “concurrent campaign of belief.” They needed to win voters the way any candidate would, by meeting people and putting forward appealing policies. And they needed to convince skeptics that just because a black woman had never won in a Southern state, that didn’t mean she couldn’t.

Those problems were supersized for Ms. Harris, who ran in a campaign cycle in which Democratic voters are intensely focused on their ideas of who can defeat President Trump.

“This whole electability conversation I think is super tone deaf,” said Representative Lauren Underwood, who became the first woman and first person of color to represent her majority-white Illinois district last year. “We can win, and we do all across the country.”

Ms. Harris tried to tackle that concern directly, bringing up what she called the “donkey in the room” at town hall meetings and rallies. When she addressed her race and gender, she cast her candidacy in aspirational terms, urging voters to “believe in what can be unburdened by what has been.”

She also argued that the path to winning back the Midwest could run through black voters in places like Detroit as easily as the white suburbs. Yet risk-averse older black voters worried that Ms. Harris’s race would be a difficult sell to white voters in key swing states.

Still others argue that Ms. Harris’s bid shows that the real risk is not leaning enough into identity, something future candidates will have to do to succeed.

“The advice for black women who are running is to lean into the fact that fellow black women are the most powerful Democrats, we have a unique position and strength,” said Aimee Allison, the founder of She the People, a group focused on increasing political power among women of color

Yet perhaps the most significant challenge facing black female candidates, according to strategists, is one that eventually undid Ms. Harris’s effort: money.

As her campaign dropped in the polls, aides to Ms. Harris frequently pointed to former Senator John Kerry’s primary campaign as an example of how a candidacy can rebound. During his 2003 primary effort, Mr. Kerry fell in the polls throughout the fall before rebounding to win the Iowa caucuses. At the lowest point, Mr. Kerry lent his effort $6.4 million of his family fortune to keep his campaign afloat, a financial infusion Ms. Harris was unable to supply or raise from donors.

“There’s a huge racial wealth gap, so you don’t have a level playing field,” Ms. Lee said, pointing to Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s ability to raise money from wealthy gay donors. “You look at the wealth gap and you look at the donor base and you look at who has the money and who doesn’t have the money, these are some very deep questions that we should be talking about.”

Now with clear evidence on how much this limits politicians at even the highest levels, Ms. Lee said, donors and politicians have to confront it directly.

Ms. Bass said that when she raises money for her re-election in Los Angeles, she often faces skepticism. She imagines that Ms. Harris faced similar difficulties.

“People question why I need money, but they don’t bat an eye when a white man from a very similar district” makes a similar request, Ms. Bass said. “Typically there’s just an assumption that a man needs the money. Usually if I point that out they immediately recognize the discrepancy, but that doesn’t mean I always get the check.”

Many saw clear challenges in Ms. Harris’s run, but they also remain hopeful. The third black woman to run for the White House will not be the last, they say confidently.

There are clear signs of progress in recruitment and the public discussion about diverse leadership, for example. Others see different signs of advancement.

As Ms. Moseley Braun, the second black woman to run for president, watched Ms. Harris campaign, she couldn’t help thinking how much less uncomfortable, at least physically, the whole ordeal seemed.

When Ms. Moseley Braun ran, candidates sat on stools at campaign events that were so tall that they left her legs dangling off the side, she recalled. And then there was the practice of the candidates locking hands and raising them over their heads at the end of each debate, like a human chain of rivals.

“As the only girl in the race at that time, it made my boobs look crooked on television,” recalled Ms. Braun, who is backing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the primary race. “It seems there has been progress.”

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As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon

Westlake Legal Group 07dems2020-1-facebookJumbo As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J south carolina Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising New Hampshire Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Campaign Finance Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bloomberg, Michael R Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

MASON CITY, Iowa — With just under two months until the Iowa caucuses, the already-volatile Democratic presidential race has grown even more unsettled, setting the stage for a marathon nominating contest between the party’s moderate and liberal factions.

Pete Buttigieg’s surge, Bernie Sanders’s revival, Elizabeth Warren’s struggles and the exit of Kamala Harris have upended the primary and, along with Joseph R. Biden’s Jr. enduring strength with nonwhite voters, increased the possibility of a split decision after the early nominating states.

That’s when Michael R. Bloomberg aims to burst into the contest — after saturating the airwaves of the Super Tuesday states with tens of millions of dollars of television ads.

With no true front-runner and three other candidates besides Mr. Bloomberg armed with war chests of over $20 million, Democrats are confronting the prospect of a drawn-out primary reminiscent of the epic Clinton-Obama contest in 2008.

“There’s a real possibility Pete wins here, Warren takes New Hampshire, Biden South Carolina and who knows about Nevada,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic chair. “Then you go into Super Tuesday with Bloomberg throwing $30 million out of his couch cushions and this is going to go for a while.”

That’s a worrisome prospect for a party already debating whether it has a candidate strong enough to defeat President Trump next November. The contenders have recently begun to attack one another more forcefully — Ms. Warren, a nonaggressor for most of the campaign, took on Mr. Buttigieg on Thursday night — and the sparring could get uglier the longer the primary continues.

A monthslong delegate battle would also feature a lengthy public airing of the party’s ideological fissures and focus more attention on contentious policies like single-payer health care while allowing Mr. Trump to unleash millions of dollars in attack ads portraying Democrats as extreme.

The candidates are already planning for a long race, hiring staff members for contests well past the initial early states. But at the moment they are also grappling with a primary that has evolved into something of a three-dimensional chess match, in which moves that may seem puzzling are taken with an eye toward a future payoff.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, for example, are blocking each other from consolidating much of the left, but instead of attacking each other the two senators are training their fire on Mr. Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor. He has taken a lead in Iowa polls yet spent much of the past week courting black voters in the South.

And Mr. Biden is concluding an eight-day bus tour across Iowa, during which he has said his goal is to win the caucuses, but his supporters privately say they would also be satisfied if Mr. Buttigieg won and denied Ms. Warren a victory.

It may seem a little confusing, but there’s a strategy behind the moves.

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Warren each covet the other’s progressive supporters but are wary about angering them by attacking each other. So Ms. Warren has begun drawing an implicit contrast by emphasizing her gender — a path more available now with Ms. Harris’s exit — and they are both targeting a shared opponent whom many of their fiercest backers disdain: Mr. Buttigieg.

The mayor has soared in heavily white Iowa, but has virtually no support among voters of color. So he started airing commercials in South Carolina spotlighting his faith and took his campaign there and into Alabama this past week — an acknowledgment that Iowans may be uneasy about him if he can’t demonstrate appeal with more diverse voters.

As for Mr. Biden, his supporters think he would effectively end the primary by winning Iowa. But they believe the next best outcome would be if Mr. Buttigieg fends off Ms. Warren there to keep her from sweeping both Iowa and New Hampshire and gaining too much momentum. They are convinced she’s far more of a threat than Mr. Buttigieg to build a multiracial coalition and breach the former vice president’s firewall in Nevada and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, no other hopeful is drawing more chatter in Iowa as a compromise choice among moderates than Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has spent more time in the state than any of the top candidates.

Taken together, the shadowboxing, bank shots and sheer uncertainty of it all reflect what a muddle this race has become. Besides the party’s unifying hunger to defeat Mr. Trump, the only clarity is the rigid divide among voters along generational, ideological and racial lines.

These fractures could ensure different outcomes in the first four nominating states — mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire and more diverse Nevada and South Carolina — going into Super Tuesday on March 3.

That’s the day on which Mr. Bloomberg is staking his candidacy, when 14 states are up for grabs. The former New York mayor, a political centrist, is skipping the early states and pouring tens of millions of his money into Super Tuesday in hopes that the field remains split by then or that one of the progressives is pulling away.

If he gains traction, that could augur a primary that may not be over by the time the party gathers in Milwaukee next summer for its convention.

Of course, it’s hardly a forgone conclusion that the Democratic contest will drag on. The front-loaded calendar means that if one candidate does rattle off early victories, he or she will be able to amass a fearsome delegate advantage.

The last time the party confronted such an uncertain primary, in 2004, John Kerry revived his campaign shortly before voting began and captured Iowa and New Hampshire, allowing him to quickly secure the nomination.

Yet no candidate today may prove capable of extinguishing the embers of the primary the way Mr. Kerry did. Four candidates — Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg — are well funded or enjoy reliable streams of money.

Perhaps more significantly, the divisions in the party are now wider than they were in the previous decade, with opposing ideological factions far less willing to settle.

Nowhere is the Democratic race more fluid than in Iowa, where 70 percent of caucusgoers said in a Des Moines Register-CNN poll last month that their minds were not made up.

Mr. Buttigieg emerged atop the field in the survey, but he is now under attack on multiple fronts.

Ms. Warren is assailing him for not being more transparent about his donors, Mr. Sanders is targeting him for not offering a more expansive free college proposal, and a super PAC supporting Senator Cory Booker is on the air in Iowa favorably contrasting Mr. Booker to Mr. Buttigieg.

And Iowa allies of his rivals are taking on Mr. Buttigieg even more aggressively.

“Mayor Pete is vanilla ice cream,” said Claire Celsi, an Iowa state senator supporting Ms. Warren. “He’s just somebody that people can agree on, but the problem is that we live in a way more complicated world than that.”

The former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who is backing Mr. Biden, likened Mr. Buttigieg to a Democrat many in the party would just as soon forget.

“He reminds me of, not in terms of character, but in terms of people reacting to him, as John Edwards in 2004,” Mr. Vilsack said. “He’s something new, he’s a comer.”

Lis Smith, an adviser to Mr. Buttigieg, said the attacks were a result of voters “gravitating toward his campaign.”

“They can attack Pete all they want, he’s going to be laser focused on talking about why he’s the best person to bring this country together on Day 1 of a post-Trump presidency,” she said.

But Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign recognizes how urgently he must broaden his coalition — and prominent Democrats have nudged the campaign to focus less on the details of his plans for black voters and do more to emphasize his Christianity and military service. He is now up on television in South Carolina quoting scripture and in Iowa with a spot that features an African-American veteran recalling their service.

Mr. Biden is counting on these efforts to fall short and for Mr. Buttigieg to meet the same fate of previous Democratic hopefuls who lost because they could not expand their support beyond upscale white voters.

“There is no one else who is in a position to all of a sudden to do what Barack was able to do,” Mr. Biden told reporters this past week, suggesting that Mr. Buttigieg would not gain support with black voters by winning Iowa, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

Ms. Warren is less inclined to discuss tactical matters, but her recent moves reflect a candidate very much concerned about the direction of the race.

She has drastically cut her stump speech, leaving more time for questions from voters, and after saying for months that she does not want to criticize her fellow Democrats she is now confronting Mr. Buttigieg over his high-dollar fund-raising.

Just as striking, she is taking more overt steps to highlight her history-making potential. After Ms. Harris dropped out, Ms. Warren sent a fund-raising email noting that “two women senators,” Ms. Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, “have been forced out of this race while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in.”

Addressing voters in Iowa City, Ms. Warren announced to booming applause that she planned to wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf at her presidential inauguration and in a discussion about her plans won cheers for another reference to her gender.

“I will do everything that, oh, I love saying this, a president can do all by herself,” Ms. Warren said.

What has been puzzling to her rivals, though, is what she has not done as a candidate: namely, spend more money on advertising in Iowa.

She ceded the airwaves here to rivals like Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg for all of October, and her spending in November was less than half of theirs, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Ms. Klobuchar has also not had much of an advertising footprint, but many Iowa Democrats believe she is the most likely candidate to make that late push.

Strolling into a Des Moines coffee shop recently, Connie Boesen, a city councilor, pronounced that she was leaning in Ms. Klobuchar’s direction because “she’s realistic,” a reference to the senator’s moderate politics.

For many Democrats, especially those in Northern Iowa, the Minnesota senator is a familiar figure who has more experience than Mr. Buttigieg but is not as old as Mr. Biden.

Asked who they were considering after a Biden town hall meeting this past week, three voters from outside Mason City all cited Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg — but also added a third name: Ms. Klobuchar.

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Des Moines and Reid Epstein from Washington.

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As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon

Westlake Legal Group 07dems2020-1-facebookJumbo As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J south carolina Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising New Hampshire Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Campaign Finance Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bloomberg, Michael R Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

MASON CITY, Iowa — With just under two months until the Iowa caucuses, the already-volatile Democratic presidential race has grown even more unsettled, setting the stage for a marathon nominating contest between the party’s moderate and liberal factions.

Pete Buttigieg’s surge, Bernie Sanders’s revival, Elizabeth Warren’s struggles and the exit of Kamala Harris have upended the primary and, along with Joseph R. Biden’s Jr. enduring strength with nonwhite voters, increased the possibility of a split decision after the early nominating states.

That’s when Michael R. Bloomberg aims to burst into the contest — after saturating the airwaves of the Super Tuesday states with tens of millions of dollars of television ads.

With no true front-runner and three other candidates besides Mr. Bloomberg armed with war chests of over $20 million, Democrats are confronting the prospect of a drawn-out primary reminiscent of the epic Clinton-Obama contest in 2008.

“There’s a real possibility Pete wins here, Warren takes New Hampshire, Biden South Carolina and who knows about Nevada,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic chair. “Then you go into Super Tuesday with Bloomberg throwing $30 million out of his couch cushions and this is going to go for a while.”

That’s a worrisome prospect for a party already debating whether it has a candidate strong enough to defeat President Trump next November. The contenders have recently begun to attack one another more forcefully — Ms. Warren, a nonaggressor for most of the campaign, took on Mr. Buttigieg on Thursday night — and the sparring could get uglier the longer the primary continues.

A monthslong delegate battle would also feature a lengthy public airing of the party’s ideological fissures and focus more attention on contentious policies like single-payer health care while allowing Mr. Trump to unleash millions of dollars in attack ads portraying Democrats as extreme.

The candidates are already planning for a long race, hiring staff members for contests well past the initial early states. But at the moment they are also grappling with a primary that has evolved into something of a three-dimensional chess match, in which moves that may seem puzzling are taken with an eye toward a future payoff.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, for example, are blocking each other from consolidating much of the left, but instead of attacking each other the two senators are training their fire on Mr. Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor. He has taken a lead in Iowa polls yet spent much of the past week courting black voters in the South.

And Mr. Biden is concluding an eight-day bus tour across Iowa, during which he has said his goal is to win the caucuses, but his supporters privately say they would also be satisfied if Mr. Buttigieg won and denied Ms. Warren a victory.

It may seem a little confusing, but there’s a strategy behind the moves.

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Warren each covet the other’s progressive supporters but are wary about angering them by attacking each other. So Ms. Warren has begun drawing an implicit contrast by emphasizing her gender — a path more available now with Ms. Harris’s exit — and they are both targeting a shared opponent whom many of their fiercest backers disdain: Mr. Buttigieg.

The mayor has soared in heavily white Iowa, but has virtually no support among voters of color. So he started airing commercials in South Carolina spotlighting his faith and took his campaign there and into Alabama this past week — an acknowledgment that Iowans may be uneasy about him if he can’t demonstrate appeal with more diverse voters.

As for Mr. Biden, his supporters think he would effectively end the primary by winning Iowa. But they believe the next best outcome would be if Mr. Buttigieg fends off Ms. Warren there to keep her from sweeping both Iowa and New Hampshire and gaining too much momentum. They are convinced she’s far more of a threat than Mr. Buttigieg to build a multiracial coalition and breach the former vice president’s firewall in Nevada and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, no other hopeful is drawing more chatter in Iowa as a compromise choice among moderates than Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has spent more time in the state than any of the top candidates.

Taken together, the shadowboxing, bank shots and sheer uncertainty of it all reflect what a muddle this race has become. Besides the party’s unifying hunger to defeat Mr. Trump, the only clarity is the rigid divide among voters along generational, ideological and racial lines.

These fractures could ensure different outcomes in the first four nominating states — mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire and more diverse Nevada and South Carolina — going into Super Tuesday on March 3.

That’s the day on which Mr. Bloomberg is staking his candidacy, when 14 states are up for grabs. The former New York mayor, a political centrist, is skipping the early states and pouring tens of millions of his money into Super Tuesday in hopes that the field remains split by then or that one of the progressives is pulling away.

If he gains traction, that could augur a primary that may not be over by the time the party gathers in Milwaukee next summer for its convention.

Of course, it’s hardly a forgone conclusion that the Democratic contest will drag on. The front-loaded calendar means that if one candidate does rattle off early victories, he or she will be able to amass a fearsome delegate advantage.

The last time the party confronted such an uncertain primary, in 2004, John Kerry revived his campaign shortly before voting began and captured Iowa and New Hampshire, allowing him to quickly secure the nomination.

Yet no candidate today may prove capable of extinguishing the embers of the primary the way Mr. Kerry did. Four candidates — Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg — are well funded or enjoy reliable streams of money.

Perhaps more significantly, the divisions in the party are now wider than they were in the previous decade, with opposing ideological factions far less willing to settle.

Nowhere is the Democratic race more fluid than in Iowa, where 70 percent of caucusgoers said in a Des Moines Register-CNN poll last month that their minds were not made up.

Mr. Buttigieg emerged atop the field in the survey, but he is now under attack on multiple fronts.

Ms. Warren is assailing him for not being more transparent about his donors, Mr. Sanders is targeting him for not offering a more expansive free college proposal, and a super PAC supporting Senator Cory Booker is on the air in Iowa favorably contrasting Mr. Booker to Mr. Buttigieg.

And Iowa allies of his rivals are taking on Mr. Buttigieg even more aggressively.

“Mayor Pete is vanilla ice cream,” said Claire Celsi, an Iowa state senator supporting Ms. Warren. “He’s just somebody that people can agree on, but the problem is that we live in a way more complicated world than that.”

The former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who is backing Mr. Biden, likened Mr. Buttigieg to a Democrat many in the party would just as soon forget.

“He reminds me of, not in terms of character, but in terms of people reacting to him, as John Edwards in 2004,” Mr. Vilsack said. “He’s something new, he’s a comer.”

Lis Smith, an adviser to Mr. Buttigieg, said the attacks were a result of voters “gravitating toward his campaign.”

“They can attack Pete all they want, he’s going to be laser focused on talking about why he’s the best person to bring this country together on Day 1 of a post-Trump presidency,” she said.

But Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign recognizes how urgently he must broaden his coalition — and prominent Democrats have nudged the campaign to focus less on the details of his plans for black voters and do more to emphasize his Christianity and military service. He is now up on television in South Carolina quoting scripture and in Iowa with a spot that features an African-American veteran recalling their service.

Mr. Biden is counting on these efforts to fall short and for Mr. Buttigieg to meet the same fate of previous Democratic hopefuls who lost because they could not expand their support beyond upscale white voters.

“There is no one else who is in a position to all of a sudden to do what Barack was able to do,” Mr. Biden told reporters this past week, suggesting that Mr. Buttigieg would not gain support with black voters by winning Iowa, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

Ms. Warren is less inclined to discuss tactical matters, but her recent moves reflect a candidate very much concerned about the direction of the race.

She has drastically cut her stump speech, leaving more time for questions from voters, and after saying for months that she does not want to criticize her fellow Democrats she is now confronting Mr. Buttigieg over his high-dollar fund-raising.

Just as striking, she is taking more overt steps to highlight her history-making potential. After Ms. Harris dropped out, Ms. Warren sent a fund-raising email noting that “two women senators,” Ms. Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, “have been forced out of this race while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in.”

Addressing voters in Iowa City, Ms. Warren announced to booming applause that she planned to wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf at her presidential inauguration and in a discussion about her plans won cheers for another reference to her gender.

“I will do everything that, oh, I love saying this, a president can do all by herself,” Ms. Warren said.

What has been puzzling to her rivals, though, is what she has not done as a candidate: namely, spend more money on advertising in Iowa.

She ceded the airwaves here to rivals like Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg for all of October, and her spending in November was less than half of theirs, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Ms. Klobuchar has also not had much of an advertising footprint, but many Iowa Democrats believe she is the most likely candidate to make that late push.

Strolling into a Des Moines coffee shop recently, Connie Boesen, a city councilor, pronounced that she was leaning in Ms. Klobuchar’s direction because “she’s realistic,” a reference to the senator’s moderate politics.

For many Democrats, especially those in Northern Iowa, the Minnesota senator is a familiar figure who has more experience than Mr. Buttigieg but is not as old as Mr. Biden.

Asked who they were considering after a Biden town hall meeting this past week, three voters from outside Mason City all cited Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg — but also added a third name: Ms. Klobuchar.

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Des Moines and Reid Epstein from Washington.

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Gov. Northam Plans to Purge Racist Language From Virginia Law

A task force assembled by Gov. Ralph Northam to help purge discriminatory and racist language still on the books in Virginia has recommended repealing almost 100 laws, according to a report released Thursday.

Many of the laws, some of which are no longer enforced or have been invalidated, stem from the state’s segregationist past, including Jim Crow laws and Virginia’s Massive Resistance policy, a coordinated effort to thwart federally mandated laws to integrate schools, transportation and neighborhoods. Other laws prohibited interracial marriage and imposed a poll tax designed to prevent black Virginians from voting.

“Repeal of these outdated, unjust, and in many cases plainly racist Acts of Assembly is an important step in recognizing and correcting the sins of the past,” Cynthia Hudson, Virginia’s chief deputy attorney general and chair of the governor’s commission, said in a statement.

“If we’re going to move forward as a Commonwealth,” Mr. Northam said on Twitter, “it’s time that Virginia takes steps to right old wrongs and remove the racially discriminatory language that’s still on our books.”

The task force, called the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law, included lawyers, law professors, scholars, judges and state officials. The commission identified 98 laws written from 1900 to 1960 for state lawmakers to consider striking when the legislative session resumes in January.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. Northam acknowledged that many of the laws identified for repeal were no longer enforced or had been overturned, but said it was still important to strike discriminatory and racist language from the state’s code “because words matter and so do actions.”

The Democratic governor assembled the nine-person commission in June, several months after a racist photograph from his medical school yearbook page surfaced — with one figure in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe — inciting vociferous appeals for his resignation, including from members of his own party.

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The Act to Preserve Racial Integrity, passed in 1924, forbade intermarriage or mixing of the races.

Mr. Northam’s initial response to the scandal was bungled, but he has since embarked on a campaign to repair damaged relationships with black constituents and lawmakers, which included the task force.

And in a turn of events, the embattled governor has moved from a precarious perch to solid ground.

In November, the state made a historic partisan shift from red to blue when Democrats took control of both chambers of the legislature and consolidated power across the state government. Now, Mr. Northam is poised to be one of the most consequential Democratic governors in the country.

The governor has goals to strengthen L.G.B.T.Q. protections and gun restrictions. He could also clear the path to remove Confederate statues across the state, an issue that has drawn national attention since a deadly confrontation in Charlottesville erupted between white nationalists and individuals who supported local officials’ plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from the college town.

The commission did not make any specific recommendations for handling the laws governing the statues, according to the report, but said it “will continue its careful and deliberate review of the Acts concerning the Confederacy and will await orderly judicial or legislative actions.”

Next year, the commission is scheduled to go deeper, the report said, and will seek out language that appears to be race-neutral or nondiscriminatory, but has “the effect of perpetuating discrimination and racial inequity.”

Delegate Lamont Bagby, who heads the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, made it clear that the governor had brought the idea of the commission to the group.

Speaking to members of the committee and a small audience at Thursday’s news conference with Mr. Northam, Mr. Bagby praised the governor and said that oftentimes, a report or committee signals that an issue would be swept under the rug.

But, Mr. Bagby said, “the fact that you all have been so committed to doing the work, and doing the work in a fashion that puts us in a position to do something in this coming session, is commendable.”

Ms. Hudson, the chief deputy attorney general, said the interim report was an important first step to shedding some of “the worst parts” of the state’s history and building a more equitable future.

“Read it, remember, and never let it happen again,” she said.

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Kamala Harris Says She’s Still ‘in This Fight,’ but Out of the 2020 Race

Senator Kamala Harris of California dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after months of low poll numbers and a series of missteps that crippled her campaign, a deflating comedown for a barrier-breaking candidate who was seeking to become the first black woman to win the presidency.

The decision came after weeks of upheaval among Ms. Harris’s staff, including layoffs in New Hampshire and at her headquarters in Baltimore, and disarray among her allies. She told supporters in an email on Tuesday that she lacked the money needed to fully finance a competitive campaign.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Ms. Harris wrote. “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.”

The announcement is perhaps the most surprising development to date in a fluid Democratic presidential campaign where Ms. Harris began in the top tier. Her departure removes a prominent woman of color from a field that began as the most diverse ever in a Democratic primary, and raises the prospect that this month’s debate in Los Angeles will feature no candidates who aren’t white.

Ms. Harris opened her campaign on Martin Luther King’s Birthday with a rousing speech in her hometown, Oakland, Calif., before an audience of 20,000 people, drawing comparisons to history-making black politicians like Barack Obama and Shirley Chisholm.

The speech was a signal of the careful balance her campaign tried to strike throughout the year: leaning on her personal story as a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants while positioning her policy preferences outside the party’s moderate and progressive ideological wings. Ms. Harris sought to focus on incremental and deliverable change rather than the type of systemic upheaval popularized by rivals like Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

But almost immediately after her campaign began, she faced questions about her policy core that resulted in damaging news cycles. She reversed her position on single-payer health care, removing herself from the Medicare for All bill sponsored by Mr. Sanders. She struggled with how to frame her record as a prosecutor, oscillating between defending it against progressive criticism and embracing it in a play for more moderate votes.

On a conference call with donors, Ms. Harris said she arrived at the decision after conferring with her family over the Thanksgiving holiday. She stayed up meeting with advisers until 2 a.m. Tuesday, before concluding she had “no path” forward in the race, a person on the call said. Ms. Harris said she would have needed to raise $5 million in two weeks, a goal she described as impossible. “I just don’t want to bullshit you,” she said.

Over the weekend, after a New York Times story detailed problems within her campaign, Ms. Harris did a financial audit of her operation, according to a senior aide. One of Ms. Harris’s aides, who spoke with her about her decision to drop out, said that her instinct was to keep fighting but that she was told her campaign would have to go into debt in order to continue.

In her announcement Tuesday, Ms. Harris reaffirmed her commitment to her campaign’s unifying ideals. She is likely to immediately become a top-tier pick for the party’s vice-presidential nomination.

“Although I’m no longer running for president,” she said, “I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.”

Ms. Harris’s withdrawal will set off an arms race between the presidential campaigns still in the race, as they try to lap up her top-tier roster of endorsements and staff. Some of her donors have already begun to field calls from her rivals.

But it is unclear how Ms. Harris’s exit will aid any one candidate in polling, considering how her standing had declined in recent months. She and Ms. Warren were competing for many of the same voters earlier in the year, but ideological moderates like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., may seek a boost from her supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Throughout her candidacy, Ms. Harris faced concerns about her political strategy and her campaign’s organizational structure. She relied on a stable of California political strategists, led by the longtime political operative Averell Smith, who did not heed warnings from grass-roots organizers to invest more heavily in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, the campaign focused on later primaries in states with more nonwhite voters, including South Carolina and California.

They miscalculated. Mr. Biden remained popular with black voters, preventing the campaign from making significant headway in South Carolina. In California, Ms. Harris was increasingly boxed out, as progressives like Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren excited the state’s liberal wing and Mr. Biden persisted among moderates.

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Who’s Running for President in 2020?

Who’s in, who’s out and who’s still thinking.

Still, Ms. Harris had already qualified for the next presidential debate, scheduled for Dec. 19, the only non-white candidate to do so thus far. Without her, Democrats may have an all-white debate stage after beginning the primaries with the most racially diverse field in history, though candidates like Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and the businessman Andrew Yang may still qualify in the coming days.

“No matter your candidate, you have to recognize that going from the most diverse field ever in January to a potentially all-white debate stage in December is catastrophic,” wrote Leah Greenberg, a co-executive director of Indivisible, a national progressive group, on Twitter.

It was on an earlier debate stage in June when Ms. Harris generated one of the most electric moments of the race so far, challenging Mr. Biden over his record on race and busing. “I do not believe you are a racist,” she began. Mr. Biden was so taken aback he cut his own answer short. “Anyway, my time is up. I’m sorry,” he said.

Money poured into her campaign and she spiked in the polls, rocketing to second place in several and generally peaking at 20 percent support. But her poll numbers declined steadily in the months that followed, beginning when she undercut her star turn when she had difficulty articulating her own position on mandated busing.

“She really showed the importance of having different perspectives on the debate stage,” said Amanda Hunter, research and communications director at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which supports women in politics and studies double standards. “Her personal story about being bused to school was something that a historically typical older white man would not bring to the conversation.”

But “there is still a very entrenched stereotype of what a presidential candidate looks like in this country,” Ms. Hunter said. “Simply by running, Senator Harris challenged that and broke down stereotypes. But a lot of the questions around electability and the challenges she faced were probably motivated by that entrenched stereotype that so many people held.”

Ms. Harris’s online fund-raising slowed in recent months and large donors increasingly turned toward other candidates. In the third quarter of the year, she spent more than $1.41 for every dollar she raised, burning through millions of her treasury. She stopped buying ads, both online and on television, slashed staff in New Hampshire and retrenched to Iowa, where she spent the Thanksgiving holiday with her family.

In the days leading up to her withdrawal from the race, as her campaign grew increasingly desperate, she surprised one donor who had hosted an event for her but is not a major Democratic bundler by telephoning him to see if he could reach out to his associates who had yet to give, in hopes of finding her additional checks. Another donor recommended to her that she leave the race.

Even as she struggled, Ms. Harris had assembled a coveted list of more than 130 bundlers who had raised at least $25,000 for her campaign, more than half of whom were from her home state of California, one of the deepest wells of Democratic cash. Ms. Harris canceled a scheduled fund-raiser with some of her top bundlers in New York on Tuesday just hours before the event. On Wednesday, she had been scheduled to attend an event in Los Angeles at the home of Sean Parker, the billionaire tech entrepreneur.

A pair of California-based Democratic strategists, Dan Newman and Brian Brokaw, had just secured the money and the implicit sign off from Ms. Harris’s campaign to begin a super PAC in support of her candidacy. The group, named People Standing Strong, was to begin a million-dollar ad buy in Iowa on Wednesday. Her campaign itself had been unable to afford ads in the state since September.

But it was not enough, as her campaign determined that she did not have the financial resources to continue. The group quickly began canceling its reservations.

In addition to the financial troubles, some of Ms. Harris’s supporters worried that a poor showing once voting began, particularly in the California primary, would leave Ms. Harris vulnerable to a Senate primary challenge in 2022.

Presidential candidates have dropped out after running out of money for decades, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former Representative Beto O’Rourke earlier this year. In 2015, Scott Walker, then the governor of Wisconsin, famously flamed out of the Republican contest months before balloting began because he was short on cash. Two decades earlier, in 1995, Pete Wilson, then the governor of California, quit that race after falling into debt.

Ms. Harris’s former rivals for the Democratic nomination quickly expressed their admiration for her on Tuesday.

“Her campaign broke barriers and did it with joy,” Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted. “Love you, sister.”

Mr. Sanders thanked Ms. Harris “for running a spirited and issue-oriented campaign,” and Ms. Warren praised her “commitment to fighting for the people, for justice, and to holding Donald Trump accountable.” The former housing secretary Julián Castro called her “a lifelong fighter for opportunity and justice for all Americans.”

Mr. Biden, campaigning in Iowa, called Ms. Harris “a first-rate intellect, first-rate candidate, real competitor.” He walked away when a reporter asked whether he would consider Ms. Harris as a running mate.

Maggie Astor and Alexander Burns contributed reporting.

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Black Voters to Black Candidates: Representation Is Not Enough

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ATLANTA — Chyna Hester knew what she was supposed to say.

The 20-year-old Spelman College student had just attended a “Black Women’s Breakfast” featuring Kamala Harris, the Democratic presidential candidate and the second black woman elected to the United States Senate. And speaker after speaker had explicitly argued that black women should support Ms. Harris and leap at the opportunity to elevate someone with their lived experience.

But after the event on Thursday, as Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl” played in the background, Ms. Hester made a sheepish admission: Ms. Harris was not her preferred choice. There were policy reasons — Ms. Harris has not rolled out a proposal on student debt cancellation, which is Ms. Hester’s top issue. But there was also something else. Even at the historically black all-women’s college that Ms. Hester attends, supporting Ms. Harris was a particularly uncool thing to do.

“It’s hard, you know. On social media, there’s a different meme about her every day,” Ms. Hester said. “A lot of young people don’t support her.”

“Why aren’t black voters supporting the black presidential candidates?” is an overly simplistic question. Like all voting blocs, black voters have diverse priorities that crisscross the ideological spectrum, creating fault lines across regions, generations and economic class. But in interviews with more than two dozen black voters in Atlanta and across South Carolina, many articulated a particular disenchantment with the idea that racial representation equated to change, and that they should automatically back a candidate who looked like them.

Moderate black voters, particularly older ones whose support has helped former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintain his lead atop most primary polls, pointed to the election of President Trump, and said nominating the candidate they saw as most capable of ending his administration was a moral priority above all others.

And some black voters on the left — particularly younger ones — are disappointed by some aspects of former President Barack Obama’s legacy and have embraced the idea that supporting a candidate who is willing to upend unjust systems is more important than choosing one from their own community.

Mr. Biden, who held events in Atlanta and South Carolina after the debate, has made his support from black voters, and the Southern mayors who govern them, a central talking point in his electoral pitch.

Dan Webb, a 58-year-old resident of Greenwood, S.C., who is black, said it plainly: He was supporting Mr. Biden because he thought white people in key Electoral College states were more likely to vote for him — and he wants Mr. Trump out.

“Within South Carolina, within the African-American community, we don’t want to take a chance on someone that doesn’t have a chance of beating Trump,” Mr. Webb said. “I feel that Biden is the candidate that has the best chance.”

In the latest national polls, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the two progressive standard bearers in the Democratic primary, are Mr. Biden’s closest rivals in terms of black support — not Ms. Harris, of California, or Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

“I want black women in office, I do, and I love Kamala Harris and think she’s amazing, but I’m just more policy-focused,” said Amber Lowe, 29, a pastor and community activist in Atlanta. She was backing Ms. Warren.

“You need to focus on things beyond relating to me,” she said. “I want to talk about the stuff that affects me. What are you going to do for me?”

Aqil Shakur, a 53-year-old Atlanta-area barber, said, “If I had a Kamala Harris or a Cory Booker that sounded like Bernie Sanders, of course I would choose them, because they’re closer to my lived experience.”

“But the Kamalas and the Corys aren’t discussing the issues he’s discussing,” he added.

The sentiment among members of the black electorate has squeezed some candidates from both sides, and is especially meaningful for Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris, two black candidates looking to replicate Mr. Obama’s electoral playbook.

In Wednesday night’s debate, both candidates pitched themselves as best equipped to rebuild the “Obama coalition,” a subtle dig at moderate candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who have impressed white moderates but have amassed almost no support among black ones.

In the days that followed, at events in Atlanta and elsewhere, Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris re-upped their pitches. More than citing any particular policy, both candidates said black voters could uniquely trust them based on their identities and personal backgrounds.

Regarding race, Mr. Booker said the country must elect a president who “doesn’t have an academic appreciation of these issues, but actually has a passion, an instinctual connection — is someone that we can trust to bring these issues to the front and center.”

Ms. Harris said at the Atlanta breakfast that her upbringing taught her lessons about black communities that other candidates had to learn about in textbooks.

“I was raised knowing the injustices in the criminal justice system. I experienced it,” she said. “I didn’t acquire the language to talk about criminal justice as I started running for president.”

Pressed by a moderator, Ms. Harris said she felt that she faced two hurdles among black voters: misinformation about her record and lower name recognition than the race’s white front-runners.

Over the weekend, she held a organizing push called “Black Women’s Weekend of Action.”

“When we talk about black girl magic, we know that it is something special,” Ms. Harris told a crowd at Benedict College, a historically black institution in Columbia, S.C. “But that magic is born out of hard work.”

Her supporters said black voters sometimes held black candidates to an unfair standard, encouraged by a political media biased against women of color.

“I think that there is unfortunately a tendency in our community for us to question the authenticity of people who look like us before we question other people,” said Theia Smith, 39, an entrepreneur from Atlanta who attended the breakfast.

But black voters have a history of supporting black candidates. Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor of Georgia last year, galvanized black urban and rural voters throughout the state, which turned her underdog bid into a fiercely competitive one. During Mr. Obama’s barrier-breaking run, black voters and young voters helped transform his candidacy into a phenomenon that was equal parts cultural and political, latching on to his outsider image and inspirational calls for unity.

Now, younger black voters have largely flocked to Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren over the race’s black candidates, because their left-wing promises to upend systemic racism and radically reform the economy are much more in line with the language of activism that emerged after the Black Lives Matter movement during Mr. Obama’s presidency. Older voters have stuck with Mr. Biden, despite Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker being well liked by black influencers and elected officials in the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mr. Shakur, the Atlanta area barber, pointed to the Obama administration as his political turning point. While he respects the former president, he said Mr. Obama failed to deliver the disruptive change that he desired. The experience changed his political priorities.

“We heard social justice talk, but he protected Wall Street, not Main Street,” Mr. Shakur said of Mr. Obama. He’s supporting Mr. Sanders this time. “I’m not falling for that again.”

His son Ali Shakur, 27, said his guiding principle was simple: He wanted to support the candidate “most committed to fundamental change.”

Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren tried to flex that young support after the debate. Mr. Sanders held a rally at Morehouse College on Thursday, the historically black all-men’s college in Atlanta, where speakers introduced him as the heir to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of racial and economic justice. A group of black students was positioned behind Mr. Sanders as he spoke, and he walked out to “Pick Up the Phone,” a rap song by Young Thug and Travis Scott.

At Ms. Warren’s event that day, an evening speech at Clark Atlanta University, another historically black school, that celebrated the political power of black women, supporters voiced similar sentiments. They said her message of “big, structural change” was authentic, and they praised her for infusing her policies with corrective measures for racial inequities.

Several students said they had no qualms about supporting a white candidate in a primary field that included Mr. Booker, Ms. Harris, and former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, the first black governor in the state’s history and one of the newest entrants to the primary field.

“Of course black people want to be pro-black, but I feel like their records are anti-black,” said Jesiah Osbourne, a 19-year-old political science student at Morehouse College.

Angela Peoples, an activist and leader of “Black Womxn For,” a collective of activists and influencers who have recently endorsed Ms. Warren, led the crowd at Ms. Warren’s event in a chant of “Flip The Table!”

“Black voters are being asked, again, to roll along so we can get along,” Ms. Peoples said, “but those days are over.”

The enthusiastic rallies for Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders were a warning shot to Mr. Biden, and a sign that if the progressives do not secure enough black support to win the nomination, it will not be for lack of effort or careful planning.

At the same time, the candidacies of Mr. Patrick and former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York could complicate matters, if either can gain enough traction among black voters in search of a moderate to support.

In an interview on debate day, Mr. Patrick said his just-announced candidacy was seeing support on the ground from black voters, and that he thought Mr. Biden’s lead among them was “softer than it seems.”

“What I’m sensing is not some openness to someone new. What I’m seeing is an openness to me,” Mr. Patrick said, invoking his background as a black man who grew up on the South Side of Chicago.

He had just landed in Atlanta, and was on his way to an event at Morehouse. Three hours later it was canceled: Only two people had shown up.

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Byron Allen Spares No One in Accusing Comcast of Racial Bias

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He broke into the entertainment business as a teenager, playing comedy clubs in Los Angeles and making his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” at age 18. He gained fame as a host of the 1980s NBC hit “Real People” before founding Entertainment Studios in 1993. That company has grown into an empire, with a film division and nearly two dozen television properties, including the Weather Channel, which it acquired last year for $300 million.

Byron Allen offers his story as a model of African-American economic success. In recent years, he has also fashioned himself a civil rights crusader, battling what he says is the racism in corporate America with lawsuits and incendiary rhetoric.

In his $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, Mr. Allen has risked alienating would-be allies like Al Sharpton and the N.A.A.C.P. while drawing the Trump administration as one of his opponents.

“There’s nothing polite about this situation,” Mr. Allen, 58, said in an interview. “I’m going to be loud, proud and I’m going to make a change.”

He filed the lawsuit in 2015, contending that Comcast, after discussing a deal to carry six of his company’s channels, had turned it down in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The nation’s oldest federal civil rights law, it gives “all persons” the same right “enjoyed by white citizens” to “make and enforce contracts” and “to sue.”

The case was thrown out three times before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled last year that the district court had “improperly dismissed” it.

Comcast appealed. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, some black leaders were irked at the prospect that Mr. Allen’s lawsuit could undo longstanding civil rights protections.

At stake before the court in oral arguments on Nov. 13 was not the specifics of his dispute with Comcast, but the standard for proving racial discrimination. The justices seemed to focus on the narrow question of whether a plaintiff like Mr. Allen must make the case that racial discrimination was the main factor or just a contributing factor in the early stages of litigation.

The Supreme Court is not expected to issue its ruling until the spring. However it turns out, Mr. Allen will likely have to return to a lower court to prove that he was discriminated against.

Comcast has vigorously defended its record on diversity and refuted Mr. Allen’s claims of discrimination, arguing that the six networks he wants it to distribute are not interesting enough for its lineup or aren’t distinct from current offerings. His demand that Comcast carry all of them in high definition and the price he is asking are unreasonable, the company said.

“We feel he resorted to frivolous litigation and name-calling instead of business negotiations,” Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman, said. “We think he’s hijacking civil rights laws in an attempt to leverage personal financial gain.”

A key element of Mr. Allen’s argument centers on an agreement Comcast struck with black leaders and organizations in 2010 in order to get clearance to purchase NBCUniversal. As part of the deal, the conglomerate agreed to add four new African-American owned networks over eight years. Two of those networks were owned by Sean Combs, the mogul better known as Diddy, and Magic Johnson, the former basketball star and entrepreneur.

Mr. Allen has argued that the organizations that helped broker the deal — the National Urban League, Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network and the N.A.A.C.P. — were essentially bought off by Comcast, which has donated money to them. The agreement provided only token investment in black-owned networks, Mr. Allen said, and has been used to justify blocking black entrepreneurs from getting a seat at the table.

“I never said you don’t put black faces out there,” Mr. Allen said. “I said you don’t provide true economic inclusion.”

Comcast said it spent $13.2 billion on programming last year, but a spokeswoman declined to say what share of that went to black-owned networks.

Mr. Allen’s criticism of civil rights groups has earned him critics who say he is in it for himself more than the greater good of black people.

But there have also been unlikely supporters.

One of them is Mr. Combs. Even after Mr. Allen suggested he was used by Comcast, Mr. Combs has publicly backed Mr. Allen’s point of view and leveled his own criticism against the company for not providing proper support for his television network, Revolt.

“Our relationship with Comcast is the illusion of economic inclusion,” Mr. Combs said in a statement on Thursday.

Civil rights groups that were once the target of Mr. Allen’s barbs have also come around, signing amicus briefs supporting Mr. Allen’s position in the Supreme Court case.

Before the oral argument, the N.A.A.C.P. held a teleconference in which Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker denounced Comcast for actions that they felt were putting civil rights at risk.

“This is a major corporation that is deciding to defend themselves in this case by tearing down a significant aspect of our civil rights protections,” Mr. Booker said during the call.

Bernice A. King, a daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat of Illinois, have written letters to Comcast, questioning its decision to pursue the case before the Supreme Court.

If there is any indication that some black leaders remain uneasy with Mr. Allen, it is that many have avoided expressing a firm opinion on whether or not he was discriminated against by Comcast.

“If that can be established in court, that ought to be established,” said Mr. Sharpton, the activist who also hosts a show on MSNBC, which is owned by Comcast. “What I know is that I had wished that this had been settled, so that we don’t have a constitutional threat to the community.”

The 2010 agreement between Comcast and the civil rights groups failed to position the black-owned networks for success, said Paula Madison, the former chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal who helped broker the deal. An issue raised during negotiations, Ms. Madison said, was whether the company would guarantee the networks a certain number of subscribers. In the end, Comcast agreed to launch the channels, with no guarantee of how many subscribers they would reach.

Ms. Fitzmaurice, the Comcast spokeswoman, said that all of the agreements the company struck with the new black-owned channels included guarantees to distribute them to millions of subscribers.

Television networks generally get paid a fee for each subscriber, and that accounts for a vital funding stream. Although she left Comcast and NBC before the black-owned networks started, Ms. Madison said that former colleagues have told her the networks have struggled to get wide distribution.

Ms. Madison, who is black, has personal experience with the challenge of getting Comcast to distribute a black-owned network. Her family owns the Africa Channel, which Comcast has carried for more than a decade. The channel has lost subscribers in recent years, she said, despite Comcast’s assurances to help it grow.

Ms. Madison said she felt that Comcast had a duty to try to help the new black-owned networks succeed, because they were integral to the company’s gaining federal approval to acquire NBCUniversal. But at a time when streaming becomes dominant and cable operators are looking to shed channels, Ms. Madison said she believed Comcast executives would not blink if the black-owned networks went away.

“It’s laissez-faire,” Ms. Madison said of Comcast’s treatment of the channels. “It’s, ‘They want channels, we’ll give them channels.’”

Ms. Fitzmaurice, the spokeswoman, said that Comcast alone cannot be responsible for the ultimate success of the channels, which needed the buy-in of other cable providers. She also defended Comcast’s handling of the channels, saying, “We have fulfilled to the letter and beyond what we’ve promised to do.”

Comcast’s distribution of the black-owned networks varied widely. The company made Mr. Johnson’s Aspire network available to about three-quarters, or 15.5 million, of its subscribers in the second quarter of this year, according to estimates provided by Kagan, a media market research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. Mr. Combs’s Revolt was in about 45 percent, or 9.3 million, of Comcast households.

In his statement, Mr. Combs said that Comcast had not provided Revolt with the necessary support. The network is not included in Comcast’s most affordable packages or in the markets that would help it to reach its target audience, he added.

Marc H. Morial, the president of the National Urban League and a negotiator of the 2010 agreement, defended Comcast. The deal created opportunities for minorities at the company, Mr. Morial said, including three people of color joining its board and the company tripling its contracts with minority businesses.

“We did an innovation in corporate diversity that has moved the needle to a greater extent than was moved in the past by laissez-faire, handshake agreements,” said Mr. Morial, who sits on a Comcast advisory council.

One black network owner, Yves Bollanga, praised the company, saying that it had come through with a minimum subscriber guarantee last year when it started distributing his network, Afro.

Comcast offers the channel in its 13 largest markets, Mr. Bollanga said, adding that more than 80 percent of Afro’s 11 million subscribers are through Comcast. The millions of dollars his company collects from Comcast in subscriber fees has allowed it to expand, including the construction of a 35,000-square-foot studio in Orlando, he said.

Mr. Bollanga said he had been in discussions with Comcast since 2007, and the operator had rejected him in the past. He gathered data to make his case to Comcast executives that they should carry his channel.

“Rejection should not always equate to racism,” Mr. Bollanga said. “Byron Allen is putting civil rights protections on the line.”

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