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President Obama mending fences with CBC after two years

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

President Obama mending fences with CBC after two years

By Roger Caldwell

There are 43 members in the Congressional Black Caucus, and it took two years for the president to find time to meet with the entire caucus. We can all make excuses, when something is not at the top of our list, and we can’t find the time to get it done.

It was obvious that Black folks were not at the top of our president’s list, because he knew we were in his back pockets. When 98 percent of a demographic is going to vote for you, and you don’t have to promise anything, you take advantage of the situation. African Americans can argue that it was not right how we were treated, but the majority of our leaders were passive, and refused to open their mouths.

Finally, on July 9, 2013, the CBC held a 90 minute meeting with the president, where they discussed the urgency of addressing high student loan interest rates, ways to address poverty, and the high unemployment rate. They also addressed ways to increase opportunities for minority small businesses, and ensuring that comprehensive immigration reform impacts all nationalities.

With the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Voting Rights Act, the president reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to fighting discriminatory practices in voting. President Obama made it clear that his administration is committed to working with the CBC on legislation that protects every American’s right to vote.

“Obama enjoys stratospheric support among African Americans voters, who backed him overwhelmingly in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. But he has faced criticism from some Black leaders and activists who argue he hasn’t done enough to help African Americans weather economic hard times and overcome lingering prejudice in American society,” says columnist Ken Walsh.

But at the CBC meeting with the president, there were no challenges from the members, and the chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio thanked the president on two diversity appointments to his cabinet. It took the president two years to have a meeting with the CBC, and there is still no Black Agenda, because our Black lawmakers refuse to present the president with one.

When our lawmakers come to a meeting without an agenda, they leave without resources and benefits. There were no demands on the table and after this meeting; our lawmakers left with no tangible commitments or plans from the president.

There is devastating violence in our communities, and our youth are dying every day, and no one at the meeting discussed this reality. No one also discussed racial profiling and the impact prisons are having on the destruction of Black families and our men. It is time for our lawmakers to attack the controversial issues and discuss solutions to uncomfortable problems.

For the president and the CBC to sit down and mend fences, this meeting was excellent, and it will help facilitate a better understanding between the two groups. It was great that the president and the CBC agreed on working together with the new health care reform.

Members of the CBC are planning an eight-city tour to “ensure communities are equipped with the information they need” to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act health exchanges. The CBC will begin its tour, “Making Good Health My Reality” on July 20 in the Virgin Islands district of Delaware, Chicago, Oakland, Miami, Dallas, Brooklyn, New York, Las Vegas and Baltimore. Each stop is in a majority minority district and this collaboration educates our community, and shows the president and our lawmakers care.

I am hopeful that it will not take another two years for the CBC to have another strategy meeting with the president and his administration. There is no reason that the president cannot have programs that are designed for African Americans, and the two groups work together as a team.


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