Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke took an unconventional approach to reaching out to African-American voters Friday, meeting with a small group representing a community of slave descendants in South Carolina and saying white Americans do not know the full story of slavery.
O'Rourke spent Friday at a Baptist church in Beaufort, S.C., where the former Texas congressman met with leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, a culture of coastal slave descendants whose separation from the mainland allowed them to retain much of their African heritage, including a unique dialect and skills such as cast-net fishing and basket weaving.
"White Americans do not know this story," O'Rourke said after a tour of the church's grounds, where he learned that anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman had lived in the area.
The former Texas congressman also addressed reparations, which he supports, though he was not clear about the specifics of what they'd entail.
"The answer is yes. We must repair this country from its very founding, kidnapping peoples from West Africa, bringing them here in bondage to literally build the wealth of the United States," O'Rourke said. "The path there, though, has to come through learning and telling this American story with everyone. Then, I think, we define what reparations look like."
O'Rourke said he still supports the creation of a commission to further study the issue.
The candidate has addressed his white privilege while campaigning in an effort to appeal to more diverse voters.
“As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on, or take for granted, I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life,” O’Rourke told NBC News' "Meet The Press" in March.
The stop in Before was the first of 10 events planned by O'Rourke in the state over the next three days, centered around an appearance at a forum in Charleston on Saturday sponsored by the Black Economic Alliance.
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are also slated to speak at that event.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.