Due to this week’s holiday, the Joint Center is releasing an abbreviated roundup. We will resume our more robust roundup next week.
Biden condemns assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse: In a statement, President Biden condemned the “heinous act,” offered condolences, and indicated that the U.S. stands “ready to assist.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the attack a “horrific crime” and said the United States will “stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that is needed.” President Biden was reportedly briefed by his national security team on Wednesday, reports The Hill.
The attackers reportedly identified themselves as DEA agents but a high ranking Haitian government official said the assassins are mercenaries. President Moïse’s wife, First Lady Martine Moïse was also shot and is currently hospitalized.
Haiti is the first Black-led republic and the first country where enslaved people claimed independence after overthrowing its French colonists on January 1, 1804. However, the country has been met with significant hardships including having to pay reparations to France, hostility from other nations (including boycotts to trade) out of fear that Haiti’s revolution would influence enslaved people in other countries, and the 2010 hurricane that killed more than 200,000 people in the country.
Biden meeting with civil rights groups today to talk stalled voting rights legislation: On Thursday, President Biden and Vice President Harris will hold separate events to draw attention to Democratic efforts to “combat voter suppression and protect voting rights nationwide.” President Biden will privately meet with representatives from the NAACP, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Urban League, National Action Network, NCNW, Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Vice President Harris will announce an expansion of the “I Will Vote” campaign. President Biden is reportedly “frustrated” after negotiations on police reform and voting rights legislation continues to stall, reports The Grio. However, sources inside the Biden administration told the site that The White House is “anticipating positive outcomes in present negotiations in hopes that the legislative packages will be passed.” Both issues are at top-of-mind as the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision holding that the Voting Rights Act does not prevent Arizona’s recent attempts to scale back voting that evidence showed had a discriminatory impact on voters of color and former police officer Eric Adams was declared the winner of the New York City mayoral primary drawing concerns about the future of New York City’s police reform and accountability.
President Biden highlights plan for human infrastructure: Yesterday President Biden spoke to Illinois’s 14th Congressional District, a key swing district, on his plans to invest in workforce development programs, childcare, paid family and medical leave, and a permanent expansion in the Child Tax Credit—among many others. President Biden’s proposals intend to highlight how spending on human infrastructure will “boost the economy.”
Infrastructure for HBCUs: While President Biden’s American Jobs Plan included infrastructure funding for HBCUs, a recent bipartisan proposal agreement does not. However, McClatchy reports the White House said the funding will be “part of the legislative package it is splitting into two bills in order to boost the odds of success in Congress.” In May, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act in the Senate (Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) and Congresswoman French Hill (R-AK) introduced it in the House). If passed, the bill “would provide federal support for infrastructure projects on HBCU campuses.” HBCUs have re-entered the limelight recently as acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones announced that she will be joining the Howard University faculty after her alma mater, the University of North Carolina, initially denied her tenure. She will be joined by fellow acclaimed journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Delta variant threat to unvaccinated Black communities: President Biden shares his remarks about the Delta variant and how it’s an “even bigger concern” to “Americans who are still unvaccinated and unprotected.” The administration will continue partaking in vaccination efforts, including directing more vaccines to doctors and pediatricians, door-to-door community-level outreach, and “surge response teams” in areas with low vaccination rates. As of July 5, 67 percent of U.S. adults received at least one vaccine, narrowly missing President Biden’s July 4 goal of 70 percent. For Black communities, vaccinations are still lagging. Of the 57 percent of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine where race/ethnicity was known, 9 percent are Black.
Labor Department releases jobs numbers: National Urban League economist Dr. Bernard Anderson analyzes June jobs report data and finds that while about “70 percent of positions lost in the pandemic have now been gained” and growth was “strongest in the industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic,” there remains a “troubling pattern of racial inequality in the recovery.” While overall unemployment stands at 5.9 percent “the current unemployment rate for Black men over 20 is 10 percent.” In industries with rapid recovery (leisure/hospitality, retail trade, public and private education) there is little wage growth, and “women continue to face increased childcare and elder care responsibilities, which helps explain their lagged increase in labor force participation as labor demand rises in the services sector.” Bloomberg reports that the Black male workforce rose to a record high in June.
House Majority Whip Clyburn announces “Help is Here” town hall tour: Congressional Black Caucus Member House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) announces his “Help is Here” town hall tour in rural and low-income communities in South Carolina. The series of events will highlight the benefits of the American Rescue Plan and address “the need to close gaps in Medicaid services.”
Debt relief for Black farmers: POLITICO analysis shows “Black farmers received the least amount of direct loans of any ethnic and racial group over the past three years, but also that the number and share of direct loans hit a 10-year low last year” and “White farmers have an acceptance rate that is nearly twice as high” when it comes to USDA loans. President Biden’s plan to reverse decades of federal neglect and abuse of Black farmers through financial assistance and loan forgiveness has been stalled since White farmers filed a lawsuit (through the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty) against the government. (Read a previous Joint Center roundup for more information.) In February, Senator Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act, which will “address the history of discrimination against Black farmers and ranchers” and “require reforms within the Department of Agriculture to prevent future discrimination.”
Color of Change issues a petition to President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding that the 4,500 people released from prison during COVID-19 are kept at home with their families and not re-incarcerated.
The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development creates a Artists Respond grant program that will provide “direct funding to Connecticut artists to pursue community-based projects that use the arts to respond to social issues, current events, and community needs.”
The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Public Private Strategies Institute are hosting several educational webinars focused on “programs that will help your business get back on track.” Information includes recent policy announcements by the Biden-Harris administration, Q&A sessions by small business experts, how to take advantage of new and existing programs at the SBA, and resources to take businesses digital.
Upcoming events include “Can the Biden administration improve the manufacturing sector?” (Brookings Institution, July 15); “2021 State of Black America” (National Urban League, July 15); “Mapping Inequity II: Learning from the Future” (New America, July 20); “Race & Education | HBCUs in the Wake of COVID-19” (The Hunt Institute, July 20).
Black Music Appreciation Month ft. Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. (Clyburn Chronicles)
Episode 2: Conspiracy and Racism (Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life)
The Joint Center thanks the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Boulé Foundation, the Democracy Fund, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., UPS, and the Walmart Foundation for additional support that has allowed us to do some of our COVID-19 and Black Communities work.