Joint Center Updates
Cedric Richmond to leave role in Biden White House: Cedric Richmond, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, will leave this position to become senior advisor at the Democratic National Committee early June. Upon his resignation, he will be the highest-ranking aide to leave the Biden administration.
The Joint Center celebrated then-Congressman Richmond’s (D-LA) appointment to this position. Richmond was also the 2020 recipient of the Joint Center’s highest honor — the Louis E. Martin Great American Award.
Vice President Harris warns against Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade: Following a Supreme Court draft opinion leak, Vice President Harris issued a statement, sounding the alarm on what this ruling would mean for the future of the nation. According to Vice President Harris, “the rights of all Americans are at risk. If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life.”
Others warn against this opinion’s implications for other basic acts of privacy and autonomy, including the right to marry, regardless of your partner’s gender or race.
FDA proposes ban on menthol cigarettes: The FDA announced plans to ban menthol cigarette production and distribution nationwide. According to a 2018 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85 percent of Black smokers preferred menthol cigarettes. The FDA hopes that the ban will encourage communities of color, specifically Black Americans, to cut down on tobacco use. Capital B reports Black Congress members and criminal justice reform and drug policy groups have “raised concerns” that the ban will “give police more opportunities to detain Black Americans, who are already overly burdened by the legal system.”
Senate Republicans take on student loans: Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced a bill that would prompt Americans with loans to immediately begin repayment. This bill is in direct response to President Biden’s announcement extending federal student loan repayment freezes until Aug. 31.
A Joint Center poll found that 76 percent of African Americans said that forgiving all student loan debt should be a priority for President Biden.
Upcoming congressional hearings include: Hearings to examine student loan servicers and their impact on workers (Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, May 5).
The Senate Judiciary Committee also began hearings on the nominations of Nancy Abudu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Judge J. Michelle Childs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Nusrat Choudhury to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Natasha Merle to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Of these nominees, three are Black women — Judge J. Michelle Childs, Nancy Abudu, and Natasha Merle.
In a statement, Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights asserted that all of the candidates are “exceptional nominees whose careers have been dedicated to equal justice and protecting the rights of all people.”
The Joint Center consistently advocates for Black judicial nominees.
Color of Change is requesting followers to sign a petition asking Governor Hochul and New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham “to commit to reducing the disproportionate density of drug programs in communities of color like Harlem.” Instead of the current system, the petition advocates that “decentralize the concentration of opioid centers in Harlem and commit to a data-driven and equitable approach that increases access to community-based programs that are small-scale, effective, and holistic.”
NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in collaboration with over 20 other organizations, sent a letter to public officials in Connecticut, in support of SB 471, statewide legislation that would protect the right to vote for its residents. According to the letter, “[t]his landmark legislation would root out discrimination against voters of color in Connecticut and immediately make the Nutmeg State a national leader on protecting the right to vote.”
The Advancement Project issued a statement condemning the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools’ decision to reinstate armed police officers back into the schools. Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, states that “this decision is a devastating betrayal to the students of Montgomery County, their families, and their communities. Rebranding school police as ‘community engagement officers’ and expanding their roles walks back prior commitments to remove police from schools. Police, by any name, will only harm students further.”
The Leadership Conference welcomes Maya Wiley as president and CEO of the organization. According to board chair James Rucker, “from her upbringing as the daughter of a civil rights leader, to the roles she has played a civil rights lawyer, to leading efforts and organizations focused on democracy and dignity for all, to serving as a educator and communicator — Maya has an acute understanding of where we are, how we’ve gotten here, and where we need to go, in service of the ideals of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund. And she has the demonstrated leadership to help us collectively get there.” The Leadership Conference also celebrates Wade Henderson’s retirement. Henderson most recently filled the role as interim president and CEO, following Vanita Gupta’s appointment as Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, having previously served as president and CEO from 1996 to 2017.
Black Futures Lab invites individuals to submit responses to the organization’s Black Census Project. The Black Census Project aims to survey “200,000 Black people from diverse communities across the country … to capture a more accurate picture of who we are and what we care about. The Black Census asks Black communities what we see as the key issues in our communities and asks us about what we think needs to be done to address those issues, so that our lives can change for the better.”
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host the 2022 Health Equity Summit, part of its Policy for the People Virtual Summit Series, May 12.
The National Urban League Annual Conference 2022 will be in Washington, DC, July 20-23.