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Tim Kaine Talks Race and Politics in Essay: ‘It’s a Civil Rights Election’

The Democratic Party Nominee for the 2016 U.S. Vice Presidency, Senator Tim Kaine, will address the delegates at National Urban League Conference on Thursday, August 4, in Baltimore Maryland.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., greet people as they stop for lunch at L.P. Steamers after speaking at National Urban League Conference in Baltimore, MD on Thursday August 04, 2016. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post/Getty Images

In a pointed essay written for Black Entertainment Television, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) "went there" on the topic of race.

With 39 days left to election day, the effort to focus on the priorities of base voters is becoming clearer in the race for the White House.

"Over many years of Sundays, I've learned how being white in America means you can go your entire life without ever understanding the challenges African-Americans face every day. It's on all of us to come to grips with these issues," the Democratic nominee for Vice President wrote.

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"In many ways, that's the deeper question we're facing in this election: who we are, how we treat each other and what kind of nation we want to leave our children. It's a civil rights election," the junior Senator from Virginia, which is 20 percent African American, states bluntly.

Kaine's message is a clear signal of how important African American voters are to the Democratic ticket. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is not expected to bring in voters from the "Obama coalition" at as high of a percentage as President Barack Obama did when he won the White House in 2008 and 2012.

Party officials and Democrats connecting with grass roots activists are increasingly worried that there is an enthusiasm gap that will impact the Clinton-Kaine ticket at the polls.

Kaine also used a few words to go after his Republican opponent Donald Trump.

"Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described Black communities in insulting and ignorant terms. This is a man who simply doesn't see the heroes and heroines of a vibrant civil rights movement," Kaine writes. He also describes Trump's false "birther" claims against President Obama as a "painful and bigoted lie."

RELATED: How is Tim Kaine on African American Issues?

The turnout of African American voters is crucial in the equation. Even though recent census data has shown that poverty is going down for African Americans, the numbers are still daunting overall.

"African-American families only have eight cents of wealth for every dollar a white family has," Kaine pointed out. "African-Americans are more likely to be convicted and sentenced to longer prison sentences than white Americans for the same crimes" he continued.

Image: A Profile of Democrat Tim Kaine, Who is Running for U.S. Senator of Virginia.
Tim Kaine, C, and his wife Anne Holton are long-time members of the predominantly African American St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on Sunday, September 30, 2012, in Richmond, VA. Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post/Getty Images

Currently in the U.S., 27 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line, the highest of any group. Whites are at 10 percent according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

Kaine also highlights Clinton's proposals on education, criminal justice reform and voting rights. Kaine has made outreach to African Americans one of his major points of focus in his Vice Presidential campaign.

Kaine also touched on going to a predominately African American church in Richmond for 32 years and his work as a housing discrimination lawyer.

"We made our spiritual home at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church, a largely African-American parish that welcomed us with open arms," Kaine states in his essay. "Thirty-two years of baptisms, church picnics and choir practices later, we still wake up early on Sunday mornings and head to St. E's," he added.