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A New Direction for African Americans & Their Families
House Democrats are working to create opportunities for African Americans to succeed and prosper at every level. Because of the vision of countless civil rights trailblazers, African Americans have overcome astonishing hardships and inequalities.
Today, more African American families have joined the middle class, more African American young people are pursuing higher education and the number of businesses started by black entrepreneurs is increasing. But, there is much more work to be done to expand opportunity and equality to all Americans. House Democrats are committed to fighting for civil, social, and economic justice to bring a New Direction for African Americans.
The American Jobs Act
September 2011 - For nearly 250 days, Republicans have ignored America’s top priority—refusing to pass legislation to put the country back to work and voting ten times against Democratic initiatives to create jobs.
It is time to heed the President’s call to create jobs, strengthen our middle class, and grow our economy with the American Jobs Act. Learn more about the American Jobs Act from the White House:
The American Jobs Act reflects a commitment to strengthen the recovery and help increase access to jobs for all Americans. With unemployment among African-Americans at an unacceptably high rate of 16.7 percent – and 1.4 million African-Americans out of work for more than six months – the President believes that inaction is not an option.
That’s why the President is putting out a plan to increase the pace of job creation, and why he is committed to fighting for Congress to act on this plan. These measures – which will expand opportunities for the long-term unemployed to reenter the workforce, provide incentives for businesses to hire, and make investments in revitalizing schools, infrastructure and neighborhoods – will help create new job opportunities in African-American communities and across the country. For example:
•The extension of unemployment insurance will benefit 1.4 million African-Americans and their families. At the same time, the President is proposing bipartisan reforms that will enable that – as these families continue to receive UI benefits – the program is better tailored to support reemployment for the long-term unemployed.
•Targeted support for the long-term unemployed could help the 1.4 million African-Americans who have been looking for work for more than six months: To help them in their search for work, the President is calling for a new tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.
•A commitment to rebuilding and revitalizing communities across the country will target investments to the communities hardest-hit by the recession. The President’s investments in infrastructure include a school construction initiative with a significant commitment to the largest urban school districts, an investment in revitalizing communities that have been devastated by foreclosures, and a new initiative to expand infrastructure employment opportunities for minorities, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
•Support for subsidized jobs and summer/year-round jobs for African-American youth – for whom unemployment is above 30%. In an environment with an unemployment rate of 32.4% for African-American youths, the President is proposing to build on successful programs like the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund to create jobs and provide training for those hardest-hit by the recession.
•An extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut for nearly 20 million African-American workers. By extending the payroll tax cut for employees next year and expanding it to cut payroll taxes in half, the President’s plan will help increase the paychecks of nearly 20 million African-American workers – providing them with more money to spend in their communities.
Congressional Black Caucus 40th Anniversary
March 30, 2011 - Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus 40th Anniversary Reception in Statuary Hall. Leader Pelosi’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I would like to acknowledge Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, and Chairman of the CBC Institute, Bennie Thompson.
“I would also like to acknowledge two founding CBC Members still serving in Congress: Congressman John Conyers Jr. and Congressman Charles Rangel. Other founding Members include Congressman Ronald Dellums, Congressman Louis Stokes, and Delegate Walter Fauntroy.
“Forty years ago, the Congressional Black Caucus formed to advocate an agenda of opportunity for all; to offer a voice to the voiceless, regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed; to advance the cause of equality, our nation’s heritage and our hope.
“For 40 years, when others refused to stand for justice, the CBC stood tall for the rights of every American; when the torch of progress looked likely to fade, the CBC carried it forward.
“For 40 years, the CBC has promoted policies that open the doors to the core components of our country’s success and prosperity: good jobs for our workers; strong schools for our students; safe neighborhoods for our children; and a fair shot for families and entrepreneurs of every background.
“America is stronger for your work, your vision, your passion and persistence.
“With your leadership, we have extended voting rights and fought discrimination in the workplace; we led the charge to end Apartheid in South Africa and honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday.
“Most recently, we made health insurance a right, not a privilege, and worked to end health disparities. We made our largest-ever investment in college aid, including billions to HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions.
“We acted to create jobs, strengthen African-American-owned small businesses, and reform and rebuild our schools.
“In so many areas, we have overcome decades of bigotry and inequality, and opened the door to a future of brotherhood and partnership.
“Our work is not done; our dreams are not yet fully realized – in education, in health care, in our economy. But we have made progress.
“With the CBC’s leadership, the arc of our nation’s history has bent even further toward justice.
“And in all the CBC does – building on 40 years of accomplishments and pledging decades more of achievement – you have been, and will remain, the ‘conscience of the Congress.’”
Congressman John Lewis Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
February 15, 2011 – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at a reception hosted by the Faith and Politics Institute to honor Congressman John Lewis on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today at a White House ceremony. The Leader’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Reverend Doug Tanner, for your introduction, for your leadership of the Faith and Politics Institute, and for working to build bridges of tolerance among America’s communities. I also want to acknowledge and thank George and Trish Vrandenburg, sponsors of this event and committed supporters of the Faith and Politics Institute.
“I want to recognize my colleagues from the House: Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. It is a pleasure to be here with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“The Faith and Politics Institute is a center dedicated to building bridges, cultivating trust among our leaders, and living up to the values of equality, understanding, compassion and community. To advance your mission, the Faith and Politics Institute does not simply educate Members of Congress through hearings and meetings. You offer living testaments to our progress – leading pilgrimages to Alabama, one of which I was privileged to join; taking us to the hallowed ground where history transpired; sharing stories of heroism and leadership from the civil rights movement.
“Central to that movement is the man we honor tonight: Congressman John Lewis. He is the conscience of the Congress, a true hero of our history, a moral leader and an inspiration to his colleagues, his constituents, and the American people.
“In marching for his own rights, he extended the blessings of liberty to others. In seeking equality for African Americans, he secured justice for all. In advancing the non-violent struggle for our most basic rights – the right to vote, to speak, to assemble – he advanced the cause of freedom.
“John Lewis has led a life of courage, conviction, and commitment to the common good. His story is a triumph for all whose souls cry out for freedom. No one is more deserving of our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.
“It is fitting that Congressman Lewis should receive this honor during Black History Month – a time set aside to celebrate our diversity and to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country.
“In this period, we strive to build on our legacy of equality by pledging a future of opportunity for our children and generations to come. And we remember, as Congressman Lewis always reminds us, that we may have come a long way since the days of Selma and the March on Washington; but we still have a distance to go to secure jobs for our workers and prosperity for our families, regardless of race, religion, or creed.
“As we honor Congressman Lewis today, we must each renew our commitment to build what he has called the ‘beloved community, a nation at peace with itself.’
“We must continue to overcome barriers to opportunity in our time. We must pay tribute to those, like John Lewis, who led the long struggle for civil rights, and the millions who marched along their side: striving for equality; fulfilling our pledge of justice; moving our country closer to that more perfect union.
“Congratulations, Congressman Lewis, on being awarded the Medal of Freedom. Thank you all for coming together to honor an extraordinary leader for our nation and the Congress.”
Black History Month
February 1, 2011 - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the 25th anniversary of Black History Month:
For 25 years, Black History Month has offered us the chance to celebrate our diversity; to honor the contributions of African Americans; and to extend the legacy of freedom and equality. Today, we continue that tradition – not simply to hearken back to victories of the past, but to pledge a future of opportunity for our children and generations to come.
As African Americans still face one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, we recognize the need to invest in a broadly-shared prosperity – an economic recovery that truly leaves no one behind.
We must ensure that jobs remain the measure of our progress and that the middle class has room for all Americans, regardless of their race or background. And we must transform our schools into centers of academic achievement and excellence – led by the best teachers available, driven by a commitment to innovation and competitiveness, and dedicated to preparing our youth for success in the 21st century.
America has long been a land of opportunity – a promise kept by the generations of leaders willing to work and march and sacrifice to help us realize the dream of civil rights, liberty, and justice for all. During this Black History Month, Democrats and President Obama will keep working to live up to that example: to secure jobs for our workers; to strengthen African-American families; and to address the critical challenges facing our nation.
Sojourner Truth Bust Unveiling
April 28, 2009 - Members of Congress were joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to unveil a bust by sculptor Artis Lane of Sojourner Truth. The bust is the first sculpture to honor an African American woman in the US Capitol and was donated by the National Congress of Black Women.
Watch video highlights of the ceremony which also included musical performances by Lomax Spaulding, Dorinda Clarke Cole, Yolanda Adams, and the Ron Clark Academy with a reading by actress Cicely Tyson of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman”:
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