UPDATE 3:18 EST:
“It was a historic gathering of over sixty leaders from civil rights, faith-based, academic, social, and youth organizations, to put together the framework of an agenda for African Americans to present before the President and the Congress for the next four years. We must move beyond rhetoric to create results and from attacks to action.
–Rev. Al Sharpton
More than 60 of America’s leading civil rights, social justice, business and community leaders gathered today in Washington, DC to discuss how to provide positive solutions to “key” issues in the Black community as President Obama embarks upon his second term.
The meeting was convened by Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League, Rev. Al Sharpton of The National Action Network, Ben Jealous, NAACP National President; Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and numerous others.
“We leaders in the African American community are gathered here today to convey our priorities for an agenda that moves our community towards economic empowerment and prosperity,” said Morial.
“We embrace our historic role as the conscience of the nation. We are united in our mission to support and protect the well being of the African-American community.”
The leaders outlined steps to develop a public policy agenda for Black America. The communique was as follows:
- *Achieve Economic Parity for African-Americans
- *Promote Equity in Educational Opportunity
- *Protect and Defend Voting Rights
- *Promote a Healthier Nation by Eliminating Healthcare Disparities
- *Achieve Comprehensive Reform of the Criminal Justice System
“The plight of the African-American community underscores the urgency of our demand. The African-American community was disproportionately battered by the Great Recession, and has benefited the least from the fragile economy recovery. Unemployment remains unacceptably high; income inequality and the ever-widening wealth gap threaten to relegate the black community to perpetual underclass status. Those who wish to curtail investment education and career preparation further dim the prospects for upward mobility for our young people,” the leaders wrote.
The leaders also pledged to vigorously oppose any effort by federal, state or local government to roll back the right to vote by supporting federal election reform, including the Voter Empowerment Act so that long lines at the polls will not be the rule instead of the exception.
“We are taking this from rhetoric to results,” said Rev Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network has been widely credited with successfully pushing back on voter suppression and getting out the Black vote, two key components of Obama’s re-election, “from people saying that we need an agenda to us sitting down and collectively coming up with one.”