Black Leader’s Wish List
During the first week of President Obama’s second term, I joined a coalition of civil rights leaders in Washington, D.C. to call for immediate action on the urban jobs crisis and a host of other issues adversely affecting communities of color. Standing with National Action Network President, Rev. Al Sharpton; NAACP President, Ben Jealous; National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President, Melanie Campbell and others, we called for swift action on a number of recommendations geared to leveling the playing field and giving a hand up to the thousands of urban Americans who are being left behind by the nation’s economic recovery.
This was our second meeting. We presented our preliminary recommendations on how best to achieve those goals.
• Reintroducing and passing the Urban Jobs Act, allocating resources for job training, education, and support services for eligible young adults, including many who have not finished high school, to prepare them for entry into the workforce.
• Reintroducing the American Jobs Act, President Obama’s proposed package of tax cuts, investments and incentives designed to put Americans back to work and speed economic growth.
• Supporting the President’s recently announced push for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and his call for universal background checks. In addition, we recommend a stronger focus on violence prevention.
We also call for citizens to mobilize around the upcoming February 27th Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Finally, we call for reforms of the nation’s dysfunctional and discriminatory criminal justice system. As NAACP President Ben Jealous noted, “Study after study has shown that students of color face harsher punishments in school than their White peers, African-American students are arrested far more often than their White classmates, and African-American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. One in 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised because of a prior criminal conviction. That’s a staggering statistic that reveals the desperate need for reform.”
We urge the president to address the urban jobs crisis in his upcoming State of the Union address and we call on the leaders in Washington to make economic and educational parity a top priority this year.
Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.