Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said:
What is at stake for black America in 2010? We are at a time of, one, crisis. And we are at a time of crossroads … We are at a time of crisis because we cannot yield a blind eye…to the manner in which this recession has affected our community.
We’re here today because we want to send the most powerful message, the strongest message possible. That a nation that can invest trillions of dollars bailing out banks on Wall Street can and should pass a jobs bill that helps out-of-work Americans.
Morial called for targeted programs and initiatives to help the chronically unemployed.
A new report from the Joint Economic Committee found that “though African Americans make up 11.5 percent of the labor force, they account for 17.8 percent of the unemployed, 20.3 percent of those unemployed for more than six months, and 22.1 percent of the workers unemployed for a year or more.”
He debunked the notion of a “black jobs bill.” Instead, emphasis should be placed on communities where the unemployment and poverty rates are high:
If the Department of Transportation doesn’t enforce its minority business goals and the Department of Labor doesn’t fund apprenticeship programs so that people in our communities [can get jobs], than these initiatives could bypass our communities. We cannot yield on the principle that targeting is a very important part of policy.Morial questioned how we can commit $53 billion for a reconstruction plan for Baghdad, but there’s no money to put people to work in Baltimore, Boston and Binghamton:
He asked his members to contact their representatives and urge them to co-sponsor the “Local Jobs for America Act” (H.R. 4812), which would create or save one million jobs in the hard-hit communities:
If you can do it for Baghdad, why not cities right here? If you can do it for the banks, why not do it for the cities … It’s time for Washington and America to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.
Our voices need to be about a plan. But they also need to be about priorities. America has to be about the priority of putting people back to work.To help move the black agenda -- jobs, jobs, jobs -- make your voices heard. Contact your representative and senators and make some noise.