Joint Center News: May 2020

This is our regular monthly newsletter, which reviews all of our Joint Center work over the past month.

Every Monday we now also publish a weekly roundup of the latest news and analysis on COVID-19 policy and Black communities. Details are below on all of the Joint Center’s work for the past monthincluding but not limited to COVID-19.

Economic Studies

On May 14, the Joint Center convened an online briefing on fair and equal access to capital for Black businesses in COVID-19 stimulus legislation. Expert panelists included U.S. Black Chambers President & CEO Ron Busby, Association for Enterprise Opportunity President & CEO Connie Evans, Former SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, TV One Chairman and CEO & Radio One President Alfred Liggins, and Opportunity Finance Network President & CEO Lisa Mensah.

Joint Center President Spencer Overton wrote a blog post explaining the impact on Black communities of the $3 trillion HEROES Act coronavirus stimulus legislation if it were to become law.

The Joint Center and the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) co-hosted a webinar on the opportunities telehealth presents for Black and Latino communities featuring FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Telemedicine Conference Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA), and other experts in telehealth, medicine, and privacy. Joint Center Vice President Jessica Fulton and HTTP Executive Director Alejandro Roark moderated the conversation.

Jessica also joined a webinar on “surviving COVID-19’s economic impact while Black.” Other panelists included Groundwork Collaborative Managing Director of Policy and Research Janelle Jones and Howard University Economics Professor and AFL-CIO Chief Economist William E. Spriggs. The panel was moderated by Marc Bayard and hosted by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, Morehouse College International Comparative Labor Studies, and the Health Equity Cypher.

Political Studies

Spencer also joined National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) CEO Arturo Vargas for the Knight Foundation’s conversation on “capturing the votes of all Americans” during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Joint Center joined NALEO and several other partners in a letter urging U.S. House and Senate leadership to “provide timely federal funding for election safety measures in COVID-19 relief legislation,” including vote-by-mail and safe in-person voting. The letter states that federal help is needed because this effort will be too costly for states and municipalities. These recommendations echo the policies highlighted in an April Joint Center briefing featuring Fair Fight Founder Stacey Abrams and other voting rights experts.

Spencer also presented at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ online convening on Section 230. In his presentation, Spencer explained why Section 230 does not exempt social media platforms from civil rights laws when they target ads that result in discrimination against protected classes like African Americans or Latinos.

Led by the NALEO, the Joint Center and several members of Staff Up Congress sent a letter to U.S. Senate leadership in support of establishing a Senate Office of Diversity and Inclusion⁠—one of the recommendations listed in a Joint Center report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff. As the letter states, “staff who reflect the diversity of Members’ constituencies also are ideally equipped to anticipate and effectively address those constituents’ concerns.” n our 2015 report, we found that while 37.9 percent of the population in the United States are people of color, only 7.1 percent of top staff (chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors) in the U.S. Senate were people of color.


On his weekly podcast, WashingTECH Host Joe Miller also spoke with Alluma CEO Robert Phillips on inequities and COVID-19, Global Policy Solutions and Candidate for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings on “COVID-19, Surveillance, and the Future of Baltimore,” and BCW Healthcare Managing Director Licy Do Canto on “health tech and communications in crisis.” The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and on WashingTECH’s website. Listen here.


The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation set a date for its first-ever virtual annual legislative conference, which will take place from August 21 to October 2.