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2020 Democratic forum today underscores Texas Southern University’s role as presidential hotspot

April 24, 2019 GMT

Eight Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for president arrive in Houston today for a forum at Texas Southern University — the third presidential event to take place at the historically black university in about a month, following rallies held by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Texan Beto O’Rourke.

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O’Rourke and Harris will be at the university again today for the 1 p.m. forum hosted by She The People, a group focused on issues important to women of color. The candidates participating include former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro; U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

Later, many of those same candidates will speak to the African American Mayors Association’s national conference at the Hilton Americas — Houston. Klobuchar, Harris, Castro, Sanders and Booker will all speak to the group between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. After the event, Sanders has planned a 5 p.m. rally at Discovery Green.

California Sen. Harris, a graduate of Washington’s Howard University, is the first major-party candidate to have graduated from a historically black college or university (or HBCU) since Jesse Jackson ran for president in the 1980s. Her campaign has visited more HBCUs than any other candidate seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination.

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“Presidential candidates are recognizing HBCUs as a political and cultural center for the broader black community,” said Aimee Allison, the founder of She The People.

Allison said that holding events at these schools is an “essential part of a long-term strategy to build trust and relationships” with black voters.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.