By William Reed
The presidential candidates – with the exception of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards, are virtually ignoring the plight of African Americans. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the nation's Black communities goes without mention and no urban agenda is given priority. "We're gonna rebuild America's cities and we're gonna do it with America's steel ... Medicare for all, money pulled out of the Pentagon budget to pay for schools and other domestic programs" - Rep. Dennis Kucinich
The presidential candidates – with the exception of Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards, are virtually ignoring the plight of African Americans. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the nation's Black communities goes without mention and no urban agenda is given priority.
Forty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights, the movement's second stage, to gain economic justice and equal opportunity, still eludes Blacks. Now, some Black leaders are telling the Presidential candidates that it's no longer acceptable to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap Black votes.
Nine well-credentialed and connected African American political and civil rights organizations say that Blacks cannot continue with "politics as usual" and are providing a platform to highlight governance issues important to African Americans. The National Policy Alliance (NPA) will host a major Summit Thursday, January 17th and Friday, January 18th, 2008 in Washington, D.C. at the Renaissance M Street Hotel. The Summit will produce policy recommendations on key issues for the next US President and for policy makers at all levels of government. The Summit also will include a forum with the 2008 Presidential Candidates. Organizers say both Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates have been invited to participate in the Friday morning, the 18th forum.
Many candidates talk about health care and raising the minimum wage, but not about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans. Blacks that have elected to "mainstream" their votes should remember that politics is an inherent feature of mankind. Man is self-preserving by nature and thinks and acts as an individual, or within a group, with foremost regard to his own interests. Self-perpetuation should be the number one rule of participation in politics.
African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. We suffer twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health) and are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. African Americans are more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages; yet, without prodding, no candidate is speaking to this central reality.
Co-Chairs for the Summit are Tuskegee, Alabama Mayor Johnny Ford and National Organization of Black County Officials chairman, Webster Guillory (Orange County, CA Tax Assessor). Mayor Ford says officials that gather at the Summit "will give voice to the needs of African Americans". Ford emphasizes the Summit could be "the premier national conversation event toward an African American Agenda.
The Summit represents a renewal of quadrennial meetings Black elected officials had held at the beginning of Presidential election years in the past. The National Policy Alliance was convened in 2005 by the Joint Center to give voice to 10,000 African American elected officials and 3 million African American government employees. Participating organizations of the National Policy Alliance are: Blacks in Government; Congressional Black Caucus; Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; Judicial Council of the National Bar Association; National Association of Black Cou