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Joint Center News: October 2019

The Joint Center released findings from a forthcoming report asserting training programs should report outcomes by race and analyzed a U.S. House report on diversity.

Economic Studies

Joint Center President Spencer Overton shared findings from our forthcoming report, Evaluating African American Outcomes to Improve Workforce Training Programs, at a forum hosted by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (CBC ALC). The forthcoming report and 6-page fact sheet call for better data analysis and disclosure of workforce development outcomes by race to ensure that training programs are effective for African Americans. Effective training programs are critical to create pathways to new opportunities for Black workers to succeed in the future of work.

During CBC Week, Spencer also participated in Verizon’s panel on how Black communities can leverage technology to overcome barriers with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation Fellow Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, and more.

Joint Center Workforce Policy Director Harin Contractor was re-selected for the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE). Harin originally joined the committee in 2017 for a two-year term and will continue until 2021.

Spencer spoke at a future of work roundtable hosted by U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA). During the livestreamed roundtable, Spencer highlighted the disproportionate impact automation will have on Black workers, and identified policies to move the community forward.

Spencer attended the National Action Network’s brunch in honor of Rev. Al Sharpton’s receipt of the CBCF Phoenix Award. Other honorees included Dr. Calvin Mackie (picture above), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ava DuVernay and the Exonerated Five, and Dr. Wanda Austin.

Spencer attended a day-long town hall on civil rights and tech hosted by Color Of Change and other Change the Terms Coalition members. Leaders, including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, discussed how the social media platform can balance freedom of expression with regulating harmful activity online.

Jessica and Harin attended Partnership on AI’s annual summit in London to discuss building fairness into new algorithms and technologies.

Andrea Custis, the President and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, cited the Joint Center’s report on the future of work and race in her guest column for Generocity on tactics to help workers prepare for changes at work related to AI and automation.

McKinsey & Company released a report “The Future of Work in Black America,” finding that Black males are overrepresented in jobs at high risk to automation, and that relatively few Black people live in areas with the highest projected job growth. Spencer and Harin provided comments on an early draft of the report, and the report reflects one of the original objectives of the Joint Center two years ago—encouraging mainstream organizations to incorporate racial equity in their future of work analysis.

October Jobs Analysis

Harin hosted an analysis on the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report. In our October 2019 chat, National Skills Coalition State Policy Director Melissa Johnson and Harin discussed ways that policymakers can create a workforce development system that provides more equitable outcomes for workers of color.

Political Studies

The Joint Center co-hosted a reception with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to honor Black chiefs of staff on the Hill during CBCF ALC week. Special thanks to Covington & Burling LLP for providing a venue for the event.

LaShonda analyzed the racial/ethnic diversity of personal offices in our initial analysis of the House of Representatives Compensation and Diversity Report, and followed-up with another analysis of committee and leadership offices in the U.S. House. The report is one of the most extensive yet and includes more data on staffers than we’ve seen before. In both studies, she found that African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented among most key roles in personal, committee, and leadership offices in the U.S. House.

The Divine 9: Spencer met with the National Pan-Hellenic Council Presidents (the leaders of the nine major Black fraternities and sororities—the “Divine 9”) to talk about research questions that are key to the Black community. He also discussed the important role Black membership organizations can play in keeping federal officials focused on policy questions of importance to Black communities.


On his weekly podcast, WashingTECH Host Joe Miller spoke with New York University Professor of Media, Culture and Communication Charlton McIlwain on the internet and racial justice, and New York University Associate Professor Meredith Broussard on understanding “technochauvinism.” The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and on WashingTECH’s website. New episodes every Tuesday. Listen here.

In Case You Missed It

Joint Center Board Member and Google Strategic Outreach & Senior Partnerships Counsel Chanelle Hardy was honored at Diverse and Engaged D&I Honors event for her “bold moves in consumer engagement.” We appreciate Chanelle’s leadership and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Identity Politics: The Joint Center’s report, 50 Years of the Voting Rights Act, was cited by its co-author, Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, in her forthcoming book, Identity Politics in the United States. The book will be released on Oct. 28 and is available for pre-order here. Use the promo code KBD31 to receive 20 percent off (Offer valid until December 31, 2019).

1619 Project: New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones released a compendium of essays, poems, short fiction, and a photo essay by nearly 20 writers to observe the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in English-speaking parts of the United States.


On Oct. 17, Spencer will participate in a panel, Modernizing Policy for a Changing Economy, at The Aspen Institute’s event, Policies in the Age of Automation: Solutions for a Changing Economy.

Author Jodie Patterson will discuss her memoir The Bold World at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Oct. 23.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is celebrating its 20th anniversary on October 29 in Washington, DC.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery will display a portrait of Former Joint Center President Eddie N. Williams beginning on Nov. 15. Portraits of other notable figures such as Wilma Rudolph, Ernest Everett Just, and Samuel Northup will be included in the museum’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibit on its first floor through Aug. 30, 2020. The portraits will then join the museum’s permanent collection.