WASHINGTON WATCH: Breaking Down Pres. Obama's 2nd Term Agenda & What It Means For Black America (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: Breaking Down Pres. Obama’s 2nd Term Agenda & What It Means For Black America (VIDEO)

President Barack Hussein Obama – his inaugural ceremony brought close to a million people to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. And judging by what I saw, an awful lot of those folks were black folks – with furs and all kinds of other stuff. No surprise, of course. We voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, and the symbolism of a black family as America’s First family is personal and powerful. Plus, there is the sense that this will not come around again anytime soon. Folks grabbed onto a piece of history, buying up everything on the streets they could find.

But beyond the symbolism and the celebration, what does the plan the President laid out for his second term in his inauguration speech mean for Black America? We take that question to our roundtable. Krissah Thompson, national correspondent at “The Washington Post”; Angela Rye, co-founder of IMPACT; Armstrong Williams, host of “The Right Side” – and no pocket square joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss this and more.

MR. MARTIN:  Hello, and welcome to “Washington Watch.”

President Barack Hussein Obama – his inaugural ceremony brought close to a million people to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C.  And judging by what I saw, an awful lot of those folks were black folks – with furs and all kinds of other stuff.  No surprise, of course.  We voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, and the symbolism of a black family as America’s First family is personal and powerful.  Plus, there is the sense that this will not come around again anytime soon. Folks grabbed onto a piece of history, buying up everything on the streets they could find.

But beyond the symbolism and the celebration, what does the plan the President laid out for his second term in his inauguration speech mean for Black America?  We take that question to our roundtable.  Joining me [are]:  Krissah Thompson, national

correspondent at “The Washington Post”; Angela Rye, co-founder of IMPACT; Armstrong Williams, host of “The Right Side” – and no pocket square.  What was he thinking?

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  And political journalist, Joseph Williams.  And he’s rockin’ the red pocket square.  He paid attention to how we roll on this show.

All right, folks.  Welcome to “Washington Watch.”

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  The President’s inaugural address was a progressive manifesto.  What did it say to black people and to the black agenda?  Take a look at the passages where the President seemed to address our concerns, and we’ll talk about it on the other side.

[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:  Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no Union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half slave and half free.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal – not just in the eyes of God, but also in our own.

[APPLAUSE.]

PRES. OBAMA:  We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We, the People, declare today that the most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal, is the star that guides us, still – just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just as it guided all those men and women – sung and unsung – who left footprints along this great mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone, to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth.

Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lands of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

[END OF VIDEO.]

MR. MARTIN:  Krissah, when you look at that particular speech, and you look at – I mean, first of all, different groups were obviously pleased.  You had Latinos, who said he was very forceful when it came to integration.  You had folks in the LGBT community who were happy that he mentioned Stonewall, and he talked about giving gays the right to marry.

I’ve heard from some African-Americans who said, “Okay.  I’m waiting for my specific shout-out.”  And so when you look at 96 percent of the black vote in 2008, 93 percent of the black vote in 2012 – we’ve heard lots of folks say, “Look, we can’t ask for a lot in the first term because the brother has a lot on his plate.  Whites might react differently.”  He’s now in his second term.  There’re no more excuses.  No one can say there’s another election.

And so what did you see and hear that was specific to African-Americans, just like it was specific to other groups?

MS. KRISSAH THOMPSON:  Well, I talked to members of the Congressional Black Caucus after the speech, and there was a lot of celebration.  You know, they were at the inauguration [and] enjoyed the speech; but I had members tell me, “Look, it’s time to regroup” – you know?  African-American unemployment is still at, I think, around 14 percent.  We’re seeing record levels there, and they’re looking for some programs that are going to move those numbers.

So, I think you’re going to see a Congressional Black Caucus that is willing to go to the mat on some of these issues in ways, maybe, they were a little tenuous about in the last four years.

MR. MARTIN:  I got a couple of emails from prominent Democrats, folks who [are] very supportive of this president, and they said he can expect – or, he[’d] better expect significant black pressure over the next four years because – their deal is the election of Obama – we talked about that in our coverage on Monday – was the beginning of a second term, but it also is the countdown to the end of his presidency.

MS. THOMPSON:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  And they said, “We can’t just sit here and allow even another day to go by and not press a very clear black agenda.”

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  In the President’s mind, he would say healthcare was for black people, because they were affected by lack of it more than anyone else.

MR. MARTIN:  And the – [crosstalk] –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:  So, the President has done something!

MR. MARTIN:  — and the Administration has said that, but when you hear African-Americans say specifically black folks, what does that mean to you, Angela, and Joseph?

MS. ANGELA RYE:  Sure.  I think, again, there are a number of things.  First and foremost, let’s deal with cabinet appointments.  You have folks who are leaving:  Ron Kirk, Hilda Solis and others.  There are –

MR. MARTIN:  Lisa Jackson.

MS. RYE:  — people of color – absolutely.  There are people of color who are leaving.  They need to be replaced, but those aren’t necessarily positions that only belong to people of color.  There are other places where he can put people of color.

Why am I bringing that up?  Because if you have people that reflect the face of America in your cabinet, the decisions won’t just rely on him – or, just lie in his –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. RYE:  — responsibility.

Also, in the White House he’s replacing his chief of staff.  It’s a white man, and that’s fine; but at the same time, there are other places of influence where we can begin to put people of color, and we need to apply that kind of pressure.

MR. MARTIN:  Joe.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  Well – and speaking of entrepreneurship, at Small Business Administration, they’ve got African-Americans.  They’ve got people in the Department of Education, but one of the things that I was talking about with a friend of mine – we had this very heated argument about the “black ask” and about where an African-American agenda is going in the second term.  And part … of his issue was, well the gays got something – you know, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed –

MR. MARTIN:  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — gay marriage –

MR. MARTIN:  — DOMA –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — DOMA, et cetera.

MR. MARTIN:  — yeah.

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  The Latinos:  a path to immigration and certain paths to citizenship.  He was like, “Well, where are the things that African-Americans are going to get?”

And my posit to him was part of the problem is that we can’t expect the President to do it by himself, because he has to respond to Congress, and the things that African-Americans want cost money.  If we’re talking about a job program, if we’re talking about public works, we’re talking about a job[s] bank that Congress has refused –

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah, but also – [crosstalk] –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — to fund.

MR. MARTIN:  — those other groups, though, they also made it clear.  They demanded it on the inside, and they said, “We’re going to put pressure on you on the outside as well.”

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  And that’s the twin part of the equation, because not only do you have to have some kind of an ask that he can get through Congress, but you also have to be willing to put that kind of political pressure on the President.  And part of the problem has been African-Americans tend to be very, very respectful and protective of the President.  Anybody who steps out of line – Cornell West, Tavis Smiley – those types who make really harsh asks tend to get shouted down –

MR. MARTIN:  Well, even the –

MR. JOSEPH WILLIAMS:  — and discounted.

MR. MARTIN:  — Congressional Black Caucus in the first term –

MR. ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS:   But you know also –

MR. MARTIN:  — they were very critical about the financial reform bill not having enough stuff in it, and I had black folks saying, “How dare you guys disagree with the President!”  They ended up getting $4 billion in concessions, and some folks said that still wasn’t worth it. That, to me, was crazy.