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President Obama Finally Meets with the Congressional Black Caucus…

May 13, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( President Obama had a meeting today with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in the State Dining Room of the White House.  The focus of the meeting, according to White House officials, was to discuss job creation and economic growth.  During the meeting, President Obama acknowledged the concern of the CBC that the black unemployment rate remains far too high and that too many African American families are hurting from the recession.  To date, black unemployment has continued to rise for the past several months, surpassing the 16 percent mark in early May.

The Obama Administration unveiled a plan to help young people find jobs by publicizing job opportunities for low-income youth at this website:  The president also mentioned other policies,  including Growth Zones, designed to give tax incentives for investment and employment.  The programs are also designed, according to White House officials, to assist those in economically distressed areas.

The last meeting President Obama had with the Congressional Black Caucus was March 31, where he congratulated the caucus on its 40th anniversary. As Dr. Wilmer Leon and I noted earlier this week, the Obama Administration’s gatekeepers have inexplicably canceled several meetings with the Congressional Black Caucus over the past two years.  Dr. Leon and I speculate that the meeting cancellations were due to members of the administration, most notably Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, not having an interest in putting the president face-to-face with African American political leaders.

In a conversation I had with Rev. Al Sharpton earlier this week, there was a point of speculation regarding whether the CBC or the Obama Administration should be held accountable for frighteningly high black economic suffering.  Rev. Sharpton argues that the Congressional Black Caucus is responsible for producing a jobs bill that the president should sign (as he mentioned to Cornel West during their heated debate on MSNBC).  Dr. Leon, on the same note, argues that it’s the job of President Obama to use his “bully pulpit” to speak in support of such legislation before it hits the Congressional floor.  But if over a dozen scheduled meetings with the CBC have been canceled, it would be difficult for any member of Congress to get anything done.

As a Professor of Finance myself, I can tell you that the bottom line is that the nation’s economic recovery has missed the African American community because there has been little to no targeted investment in the places where black people live.  NAACP President Ben Jealous made the accurate point that much of the money that might have been spent on education and economic development has instead been spent on building more prisons and jails so they can be filled with people who look like us.  At the end of the day, the Obama Administration, the CBC and the Justice Department must find a way to work together to alleviate the suffering of African American taxpayers by finding the incentive to utilize political capital for issues that matter to our community.  For example, while Attorney General Eric Holder has taken admirable stances on gay rights and immigration, he has yet to even mention the mass incarceration of African American men, which serves to destroy black families.

Most importantly, the critical meetings, conversations and commitments must not simply be made during campaign season.  The black community has given unprecedented and extraordinary support to the Obama Administration, supplying nearly 20% of the votes that got the president elected.  It is only fair and reasonable that this same extraordinary support be returned.  Let’s hope that this meeting is the start of something good, for we deserve our piece of the political pie.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit


One Response to “President Obama Finally Meets with the Congressional Black Caucus…”
  1. fed up says:

    I understood that the CBC was to talk about passge of HR589 to give the black community (along with whites, Hispanics, Asians and others the sorely needed
    extension of benefits…With such high unemployment I am certain the black community is hurting worse than others as to serious suffering

    Was this even discussed with Obama ? I am certain with his strong support this will be passed immediately..he continues withn huge foreign aid to many of America’s enemies, but does noithing to help desperate long term unemployed people

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