NAACP Program Directors Respond to State of the Union Address

(BALTIMORE)-- On Tuesday, January 28, President Barack Obama issued his State of the Union Address highlighting key progress and ongoing issues affecting our country. Following the speech, NAACP program directors issued the following statements:

Dedrick Muhammad, Sr. Director for Economic Programs, NAACP
“The President’s State of the Union address doubled down on the progressive economic agenda he has been fighting for since his election.  He has laid out challenges to congress to advance this agenda needed to rebuild America’s middle class economy and laid out how will move this agenda forward even if Congress continues to be a roadblock for his reforms.  President Obama highlighted once again how economic inequality is a fundamental challenge this country faces, and the NAACP is committed to bridging the growing economic divide in this country.

The same communities and individuals that tend to be at the losing end of income inequality are also disproportionately exposed to pollution and differentially vulnerable to the impacts of shifts in energy prices and disasters driven by pollution from the energy sector. Energy companies are one of the largest perpetrators of income inequality as the top 10 worst ranked  polluting companies in the NAACP coal blooded report had average CEO  annual compensation packages that were 289 times the average annual salaries of the workers in their polluting plants.

The system we have is failing the average worker and low-income communities. As such, an integrated approach is needed as we seek solutions to address these interrelated problems.  Given that energy is a trillion dollar industry and energy is a commodity upon which every single American depends, yet our current system which relies on fossil fuel based energy which pollutes communities and increases the occurrence of disasters, radical reform is needed in order to turn catastrophe into opportunity.

Given that local businesses create 2-3 more jobs per megawatt than centralized systems, we need a distributed energy system which prioritizes energy efficiency first and clean energy as its main source and emphasizes development through strengthening local economies and  creating local jobs. Nationwide communities are developing community owned wind and solar systems that supply their electricity needs and create, good, local, well paid jobs. We need to support the wide scale implementation of similar initiatives.”

Evans Moore, Interim Director for Education Programs, NAACP
“I am glad the President wants to make pre-k education available for every child. Making pre-k education opportunities available for all 4-year-old children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, means to closing the achievement gap.  We know that children should enter kindergarten with pre-literacy skills."

Shavon Arline-Bradley, Sr. Director for Health Program, NAACP
“The president's speech last night spoke to a myriad if issues, including the economy, jobs, climate change & the environment, immigration, voting rights and veterans. The State of the Union address captured what is near and dear to my soul's advocacy work: the rights of women and healthcare. To sum up this fight to provide equal and affordable access to healthcare, "the numbers don't lie".  The NAACP has had the privilege to contribute to the efforts to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, where 3 million young people are now on their parent's insurance and 9 million Americans enrolled in Marketplaces and expanded Medicaid programs. We should no longer live in an America where families live in fear, hoping they won't go bankrupt because of a catastrophic, medical emergency.

We should no longer live in an America where families live in fear, hoping they won't go bankrupt because of a catastrophic, medical emergency. The NAACP urges you to tell your family and friends to get covered by March 31. No more plans to repeal members of congress, we are looking for plans to regain control over the excessive costs and rebuild a stronger, healthcare infrastructure.  Remember numbers don't lie.”

Jotaka Eaddy, Sr. Director for Voting Rights, NAACP
“President Obama called upon Congress and our Nation to Restore the Voting Rights Act and preserve our Democracy. Voting is fundamental to our great American Democracy and we must make this a priority. He made clear tonight that our Democracy must be centered around principles of one person, one vote and not the bank accounts of a few. We must replace the influx of money in politics with ‎expanded, free and unfettered access to the ballot box for all Americans.

We applaud the President’s commitment to expanding access to voting rights. We encourage states to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Election Commission. We look forward to working to expand early voting, develop common sense solutions to make voting more accessible and ensure that no voters have to endure 7-hour lines to vote. Our Democracy is dependent on our ‎willingness to act.”

Niaz Kasravi, Director for Criminal Justice, NAACP
"The President's promise of opportunity for all Americans must include working together to keep our kids in schools and communities that are safe. We must dismantle the school to prison pipeline - a reality that disproportionately impacts communities of color and funnels youth of color to jails and prisons at younger and younger ages," said Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP's Criminal Justice Director. "It must also include ensuring that our youth are safe from gun violence that is a daily reality in many poor communities of color - work that has to address fighting economic inequities, promoting public health and public safety, ensuring access to quality education for all, ending the war on drugs, and promoting sensible gun safety laws.

The President discussed making sure that every American has the skills needed to fill American jobs. This effort must include removing barriers for employment for the over 700,000 Americans who have paid their debt and return home from prison or jail each year - a talent pool that remains largely untapped."

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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