Joint Center Updates
White House issues proclamation on the eve of Black History Month: On the day before the nation officially begins its annual, month-long recognition of the achievements and contributions of African Americans, the White House issued its Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2022. In it, President Biden reiterates his and Vice President Harris’ commitment to “advancing equity, racial justice, and opportunity for Black Americans.”
Majority of Americans support President Biden’s promise to name a Black woman to the SCOTUS: More than half of Americans — 51 percent — polled earlier this week by Politico and The Morning Consult said they support President Biden in nominating a Black woman to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced last month that he will retire from the Supreme Court of the United States. More than eight in 10 Democrats — 82 percent — support the president’s decision, according to The Hill. And according to that same poll, President Biden’s SCOTUS nominee has the potential to motivate young Black voters.
Black-led organizations continue to show support for Drs. Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson’s nomination for the Fed: Leaders of Black-led advocacy groups sent a letter to the members of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs expressing strong support for Drs. Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to be confirmed to the Federal Reserve Board. “At this critical moment when many Americans have been devastated by the economic impact of the pandemic, supply chain disruption, and stubborn inflation, the Federal Reserve serves a unique role in helping to facilitate our economic recovery. Senate confirmation of Dr. Cook and Dr. Jefferson would complement the Federal Reserve’s leadership with the necessary perspective of esteemed economists who have the lived and professional experiences to ensure underrepresented communities are not left behind so our nation can enjoy an equitable recovery that strengthens and benefits the entire economy,” they wrote.
North Carolina cited as a starting point for racial gerrymandering: When Congressman George Kenneth Butterfield (D-NC) announced his retirement from Congress in November 2020, his constituents became the first victims of new congressional maps racially gerrymandered to limit the impact of Black communities and voters in elections, Forbes reports. The intentional manipulation of district maps by Republican-controlled state legislatures is being faced with harsh criticism from civil and human rights groups, who are fighting against partisan gerrymandering and joining lobbying and legislative efforts to ensure that Black voters have a voice. The Brennan Center for Justice describes the current congressional redistricting process as “one of the most abuse laden in U.S. history,” USA Today reports.
Black GOP candidates for Congress gaining fundraising traction: A number of African American Republican candidates for Congress are experiencing significant success with campaign fundraising efforts, Roll Call reports, even as President Biden and other Democrats continue to define the GOP as the party of Jim Crow 2.0. Candidate Wesley Hunt, who is running for the Republican nomination in Texas’ 38th District, and sitting Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), are among those reporting significant sums raised in the most recent fourth quarter, citing more than $1 million and $7 million, respectively.
Perkins elevated to acting chief of staff role: Trudy Perkins has been promoted to acting chief of staff for Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Perkins, who served as deputy chief of staff and communications director for the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), currently serves as Senator Brown’s communications director, and will continue in that role as acting chief of staff. At the time Perkins joined Senator Brown’s staff in 2020, Joint Center analysis found that she was the only African American communications director serving in a Senate personal office. There are currently two African American communications directors serving in a Senate personal office: Dominique McKay (Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)) and Michael Brewer (Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA)).
Upcoming congressional hearings include Building Opportunity: Addressing the Financial Barriers to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses’ Involvement In Infrastructure Projects (House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, Feb. 3); Hearings to examine the nominations of Sarah Bloom Raskin of Maryland to be Vice Chairman for Supervision, and to be a Member of the Board of Governors, and Lisa DeNell Cook of Michigan, and Philip Nathan Jefferson of North Carolina, both to be a Member of the Board of Governors, all of the Federal Reserve System (Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Feb.3); Examining The History and Importance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Feb. 4); Small Businesses, Big Impact: Ensuring Small and Minority-Owned Businesses Share in the Economic Recovery (House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, Feb. 17).
The Phi Beta Kappa Society condemned the continued bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by voicing their support for the HBCU community and calling the threats “racialized criminal violence designed to instill fear and disrupt institutions of higher learning that play an essential role in creating a vibrant democracy for our nation.”
The NAACP urged U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring federal civil rights charges against white former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot Black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, the Associated Press reports. Convicted of murder in 2018, Van Dyke is scheduled to be released from prison today after serving less than half of his state prison term of six years and nine months.
The NAACP joined with other advocacy groups to request a series of meetings with President Biden to address the impact of student loan debt on Black women. The groups are calling on the administration to cancel at least $50,000 in student debt per borrower as a solution to the student debt crisis.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) joined with other civil rights groups who deem the Electoral Count Act as “insufficient” and urged Congress to remain focused on “federal voting rights protections and the core issue of racial discrimination addressed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.”
The LDF released a Thurgood Marshall Institute report calling for reforms to pretrial legal systems to “improve fairness and racial justice” while ensuring people appear for trial. The report found the current system “routinely incarcerates low-wealth individuals who pose very low public safety risks — at a cost to taxpayers of roughly $14 billion per year.”
The LDF lauded the final agreement settlement reached in Sheff v. O’Neill, a school desegregation case against the State of Connecticut that sought to address racial disparities between students in the city of Harford and those in surrounding suburbs. Lead plaintiff Elizabeth Horton Sheff called the settlement a victory “for the larger cause of education equity across the country.”
Color of Change called on President Biden to fulfill the promise he made during his election campaign to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the wake of Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement to retire.
Dr. Alex Camardelle, Joint Center’s Workforce Policy director, will join the National Skills Coalition’s Skills Summit for a fireside chat on “how we can continue to Build Back Better and work towards an inclusive economic recovery” at 12 p.m. EST, Feb. 15.
Jessica Fulton, Joint Center’s vice president of policy, will be a panelist at the Sadie T.M Alexander Conference for Economics and Related Fields, which is taking place Feb. 17-20.
The 25th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit is March 21-23, 2022.
The National Action Network Convention 2022 will be at the Sheraton Times Square New York Hotel in New York City, April 6-9, 2022.
The National Organization of Black County Official’s 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN, April 20, 2022.