CBC Hosts the Black Leadership Summit on the Jobs Crisis

Last week, I attended the Congressional Black Caucus’ National Black Leadership Summit on the Job Crisis.  Black Congressional leaders along with notable civil rights leaders and organizations convened to discuss the economic plight facing the African American community. Currently, the unemployment rate in the African American community is 16.2%, 7 percentage points higher than the national average (9.2%) with African American men and African American youth faring significantly worse at 17.5% and 41% respectively. As Rev. Jesse Jackson immediately pointed out the crisis facing the African American community is not a jobs issue but a justice issue and this issue should not be regarded as an African American problem but an American problem.


The purpose of the Summit was for leaders to begin developing a unified agenda to improve the economic conditions of African Americans. It was immediately agreed upon that there needs to be more pressure on President Obama, his Administration and other governing bodies (e.g., Department of Justice) to address the economic challenges facing African American communities. The CBC has proposed over 40 job bills to address the unemployment rate but those bills have not gained support in Congress.  There was some disagreement on how these policies should be messaged – in race neutral or race specific terms. While the political climate may be less favorable to racial policies targeted towards the African American community, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson argued that a universalistic approach is ineffective and will have several unintended consequences, primarily not serving the populations that are most economically vulnerable - African Americans and other minority groups.  Another congressional leader noted that this country is reverting backwards not progressing forwards on racial and economic issues. If we do not advocate for better and more effective policies now, younger African American generations are going to face the social and economic realities that Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement fought to eradicate. 


Understanding the urgency of this job crisis, several of the organizations represented in the room have already begun to act. The CBC will launch their For the People Jobs Initiative 4 city job tour which will begin in Cleveland, Ohio on August 8.  Additional dates can be located at http://thecongressionalblackcaucus.com/issues/jobs-initiative/dates-and-locations/. The National Action Network will host A March for Jobs and Justice on August 27, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The march pre-rally will begin at 12 (Noon) at Constitution and 17th Streets followed by a march beginning at 1:30pm to the King Memorial site on Ohio Drive, SW and West Basin Drive, SW.