Joint Center Updates
President Biden signs the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law: President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, officially making lynching a hate crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Vice President Harris, who was a co-sponsor during her tenure as a senator (D-CA), offered remarks. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was introduced by Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) and overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month. This bill finally became law after legislators previously failed to pass antilynching bills nearly 200 times.
Biden administration releases a plan to take on racial bias in home valuations: The Biden administration recently released a 21-step action plan aimed at fighting racial bias in home appraisals. This plan has received support from major trade groups across the industry including The Appraisal Institute, MarketWatch reports. In a speech highlighting the plan, Vice President Harris emphasized how bias in home appraisals “widens the racial wealth gap.” A 2018 report from the Brookings Institution estimated that bias accounted for a loss of $48,000 per home in majority-Black neighborhoods, adding up to roughly $156 billion in cumulative lost value nationally.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) and National Urban League (NUL) lauded the Biden administration’s action plan to end racial bias in the home appraisal process. “We support the Biden administration’s efforts to put the full weight of government behind rooting out bias at all stages of the appraisal and refinancing process,” LDF Director of Policy Lisa Cylar Barrett said in a statement, “and we encourage all stakeholders in this process to join the president in addressing this as a fair housing issue.”
The Joint Center continues to research and offer recommendations on economic policies that advance the economic status of Black communities.
Underrepresentation of Black people in trials and treatment programs points to racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of long COVID: As the Food and Drug Administration authorizes second COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for those 50 and older and some immunocompromised people, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says Black people are underrepresented in long COVID trials, treatments and remedies, The New York Times reports. As a result, experts warn of an impending new crisis: more long COVID cases in Black communities without a corresponding increase in treatment availability.
Passage of reparations bill made possible by increased influence of Black people in Congress: An analysis of the influence of Black legislators in the Democratic Party provides insights into why legislation to establish a commission to study reparations, first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) in 1989, now has a chance of being passed by the House of Representatives, The Washington Post reports. The bill, known as H.R. 40, has gone from failing to get out of committee with about 30 co-sponsors, to being voted out of committee in April 2021 with 196 backers, including a significant number of white Democrats. The difference: many Congressional Black Caucus members are now Democratic Party insiders and key players in Washington.
The Joint Center is a partner to the Congressional Black Caucus and has consistently been on the vanguard of efforts to diversify the legislative branch. Our work has directly led to more Black representation on the Hill.
Congresswoman Lee addresses the legacy of slavery to the UN: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Congressional Representative to the United Nations, delivered remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Plenary Meeting on the Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Congresswoman Lee is one of few members of Congress to have delivered remarks on behalf of the United States at the General Assembly. Her remarks emphasized the need to address the legacy of slavery by dismantling systemic racism.
Upcoming congressional hearings include: Examining Civil Rights Litigation Reform, Part 1 (House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, March 31); Progress and Present Challenges on COVID-19 in Africa (House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights, March 31); Business meetings to consider the nominations of Ketanji Brown Jackson of the District of Columbia, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Stephanie Dawkins Davis of Michigan, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit, Arianna Freeman of Pennsylvania, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, Vanessa Roberts Avery of Connecticut, to be United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Department of Justice, among others (Senate Judiciary Committee, April 4).
LDF joined with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and LatinoJustice PRLDEF to submit an amicus brief urging the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant Fairfax County (VA) School Board’s motion to stay the trial court’s ruling changing, mid-cycle, admission policies at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The policies removed barriers to education opportunities for Black and Latina/o students, low-income and English Language Learner students, including Asian Americans, and students from historically underrepresented schools.
Several groups, including LDF, commended the New York State Senate for including the funds needed to implement and enforce the John R. Lewis Voting Rights of New York (NYVRA) in its 2022 budget proposal. NYVRA provisions include “protections against voter intimidation, deception or obstruction,” and “new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court.”
The Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law lauded the reversal of a district court ruling denying Black farmers the right to intervene in the Miller v. Vilsack lawsuit, currently pending in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Texas. As a result, the farmers can now defend the United States Department of Agriculture debt relief program, which provided $4 billion dollars of debt relief to Black farmers through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The NUL issued a two-year assessment of The State of Black America and COVID-19 on behalf of The Black Coalition Against COVID (BCAC). “We commissioned this two-year report because we believe it is important to examine the consequences of the pandemic for Black America,” says BCAC Director Dr. Reed Tuckson, M.D.
Joint Center Vice President of Policy Jessica Fulton will be a panelist at the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race for Results report virtual event April 11 at 11 a.m. ET.
The National Organization of Black County Officials 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN, April 20.
The African American Mayors Association 2022 Annual Conference, “The Time for Transformation In Our Cities,” will be in Washington, DC, April 27-29.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host the 2022 Health Equity Summit, part of its Policy for the People Virtual Summit Series, May 12, 2 p.m. ET.
The National Urban League Annual Conference 2022 will be in Washington, D.C., July 20-23.