Carl Day is a pastor at Culture Changing Christians in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood.

Carl Day is a pastor at Culture Changing Christians in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood. / NPR

Philadelphia pastor Carl Day says he'll vote to reelect President Joe Biden in 2024 if it means keeping former President Donald Trump out of office. But he says Biden isn't the candidate he'd design from scratch.

Who is he? Carl Day is a pastor and community organizer in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, a center of the city's opioid epidemic and an area plagued by gun violence.

  • Day, known as the "Pastor of the hood," runs the Culture Changing Christians ministry and organizes programs to help young men escape gun violence, poverty, addiction and incarceration.

What did Day say before the last presidential election?

  • In 2020, NPR talked to voters of color in different parts of the country. When asked how enthusiastic he was about Biden, on a scale from 1 to 10, Day said between 2 and 3. 
  • Speaking about Biden's campaign at the time, Day said this:

"As a Black man in America who is very, very entrenched with the Black community obviously, especially here in Philadelphia, I'll say that, you know, it definitely looks like pandering as usual ... To me, this entire campaign literally just reeks, you know, how can we best rock the Black vote to sleep?" 

President Joe Biden speaks during a Labor Day event in Philadelphia earlier this month.

President Joe Biden speaks during a Labor Day event in Philadelphia earlier this month. / AP

Want more on politics? Listen to the Consider This episode on Speaker McCarthy and the impeachment inquiry.

What's Day saying now?

  • This week, Day says he still sees cycles of poverty in his neighborhood that haven't been resolved. Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate of any big city in America, and Day believes decades of waning industry and disinvestment have left residents trapped in poverty:

"We're right now in Philadelphia, where the schools are legitimately falling apart. Like, people don't have heat or air in schools. So if it's too hot, kids will get sent home 'cause there's no air in the schools. Schools have asbestos in it right now. Like, these are real issues in schools 'cause that's how dated and old they are. And don't even begin to get me started on the curriculum and the life skills that people have lacked. So those things are things that lead to poverty."

  • Still, Day believes the Biden administration has made an effort to connect with community-based organizations, saying:  "I've gotten to be a part of that. I see that they've hired really good people who know the national landscape of violence – who've done great work in violence prevention sectors." 
  • But he's not sure if the government is doing all that it can. He said he sees how fast the government can pour money into other emergencies – like COVID and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – but he feels he's constantly fighting red tape to get his community the support it needs.
  • He says that politicians have been running the same playbook for too long, and that it's time for different voices: "What I'm afraid of is that we have so many old voices that represent so much of an old America where we're lacking the innovation that's needed."
  • Still, the prospect of another Trump presidency outweighs Day's hesitancy to support Biden. He opposes Trump and other politicians who, he believes, "Really, really represent a very, very bold bigot demographic and also are aggressive enough to do things like January 6."

What does Day want?

  • He wants progress. And he worries about a growing sense of apathy from voters who have been promised change again and again:

"People's conditions aren't changing right now. What happens when people say, 'You know what? I don't like Trump. But at the same time, Biden – I don't feel like anything changed, so I'm going to stay in the house this time'?

[A] person whose reality hasn't changed in their 20-something or 30-something or 50-something-year existence, and they keep hearing a lot of campaigning, they're like, 'Convince me.'" 

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