Black Agenda Summit at Howard: Obama “Does Not Deserve a Pass Anymore”

Lauren Victoria Burke, Politic 365, February 1, 2013

On the first day of Black history month, policy experts analyzed the current economic state of Black Americans during a summit at Howard University. One featured participant said President Obama, “does not deserve a pass anymore” regarding confronting Black issues head on and asked that the President “summon his courage” and “find his voice” on economic inequality in America.

Today’s 4th Annual Summit on African American Economics was hosted by Howard University and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Participants included Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Dr. Bernard Anderson, Ralph Everett of the Joint Center, William Spriggs of the AFL-CIO, William Darrity of Duke University, and Profs. Dr. Charles Betsey, Dr. Rodney Green, Dr. Enrique Lopezlira, and Dr. Lorenzo Morris of Howard.

A growing sense of urgency at the start of President Obama’s second term could be heard at today’s forum as well as other events hosted by a growing chorus of experts hoping to put policy focus on a specific “Black agenda.” {snip}

“We’re talking about an economic system that is shot through with discrimination against Black people—it denies them opportunities to participate full in this economy. Until we attack that head on we will never solve the problem,” said noted economist Dr. Bernard Anderson of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

There has been discussion on what some refer to as a “cone of silence” over the Obama presidency regarding issues dealing with race and racial disparities in America. The Washington Monthly magazine featured Obama and race on their front cover in January.

Last Friday in Washington, the heads of the NAACPNational Urban League, the National Action Network and many other Black leaders, convened to discuss many of the same agenda items highlighted today with the goal of presenting specific policy to the President.

As the White House signals that immigration and gun control will be the first two issues the President will spend political capital on at the start of his second term, Black leaders are positioning to make sure the next four years will include attention on their economic and job agenda.

As he said that Black Americans gave President Obama a “pass” on Black issues during his first term, Dr. Anderson, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the President, (including hosting a fundraiser in 2008) said the days of Obama getting a “pass” from Black Americans is now over.

{snip}

Dr. Anderson spoke directly on the need for President Obama to, “find his voice, summon his courage, and use some of his political capital to eliminate racial inequality in American economic life.”

“We know he’s not President of Black America. He’s the President of the United States and we are proud of that. But asserting that a rising ride lifts all boats is not enough,” the prominent economist added.

{snip}

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