Black unemployment was on the minds this week of dozens of black leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to craft a new black agenda for President Obama’s second term. The president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, spoke for the group as he outlined the five, key priorities of a new agenda for black America.
MR. MARTIN: Folks, black unemployment was on the minds this week of dozens of black leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to craft a new black agenda for President Obama’s second term. The president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, spoke for the group as he outlined the five, key priorities of a new agenda for black America.
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MR. MARC MORIAL: Number one, achieve economic parity for African-Americans. Number two: promote equity in educational opportunity. Number three: protect and defend voting rights. Number four: promote a healthier nation by eliminating healthcare disparities. Number five: achieve comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system.
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MR. MARTIN: After the news conference, I talked to one of the leaders working on this new black agenda, Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
MR. MARTIN: So, Barbara, one of the issues when we talk about a black agenda that I’ve heard specifically from black women, and that is they want to see a black woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
MS. BARBARA ARNWINE: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Is that going to be one of those issues where this president will be pushed on, if a vacancy becomes open?
MS. ARNWINE: Absolutely. The Black Women’s Roundtable met just recently last week, and we talked about wanting a black woman appointed to the Supreme Court. That’s one of our demands. We’re not going to stop until we see that achieved. Absolutely.
MR. MARTIN: Now one of the other things is this importance of an inside-outside game, and –
MS. ARNWINE: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — we’ve always seen that. Yet, there’s been a reluctance upon the part of black organizational leaders to apply public pressure to the President, to some degrees even Democrats in Congress – people who say, “Wait a minute. I’m your friend, but that’s also still a vital part of still getting what you desire.” We saw it happen with Latinos. We saw it happen with gays and lesbians. We’ve seen it happen with every other group, so why have African-Americans abandoned that? And do you believe that’s still going to be a vital part to get what you desire?
MS. ARNWINE: I think that it’s very clear that inside-outside strategies are still very critical, and it has been so critical to so many of the groups that have seen progress. And I think, realistically, that to deal with some of the fight-back and this backlash – or, I should say “blacklash” – against our people and against other groups that helped to reelect the President, that I think it’s going to require some actual demonstrations in the street to get Congress and others to understand the black – you know, black positions and black ideas.
MR. MARTIN: Folks, the meeting was called, or convened, by the National Urban League; Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the NAACP; and the Black Women’s Roundtable.
But what they laid out, though, was really broad ideas, as opposed to specific policy goals, specific laws they’re pushing, backing. Marc Morial told me this week that that will be taking place very soon, but here’s also what needs to happen, and that is as opposed to simply saying, “Here’s the agenda,” the pressure has to be applied to make it happen. So, I believe one of the things that should happen is that what they should be doing is keeping up with the black organizations that are meeting in the nation’s capital every single month and telling them, “Put it on your agenda to drive your conference attendees, your convention attendees to Capitol Hill, to the White House, to make their voices known.”
We must see that kind of public pressure. Look, I totally understand a president saying, “I support some of these initiatives,” but you also have to have people on the inside at the table and folks on the outside also making it happen. And that is pressing the White House, pressing the House, pressing the Senate – and pressing state governments when it comes to these particular policies. The people who were out there in force voting? Guess what? That’s over. The election is done. Now you must keep those same movements together to drive the policies that we want to see affected that are on this black agenda.
Only you can do it. Your voices must be heard. You must mobilize. You must organize. At the end of the day, you must do it.