It is hot as hell in DC. It is even hotter under the collars of some African American women who are asking: Are we not civil rights leaders?
The women were set off by the news that President Obama was scheduled to meet with the leaders of two civil rights organizations – National Urban League President Marc Morial and NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. A readout of the meeting said "the President discussed the continued efforts his administration is making to spur job creation and economic growth."
The readout noted:
The President also reiterated that reducing unemployment, which disproportionately burdens the African-American community at 16.2%, remains a top priority for him and his Administration. The President also spoke with the two civil rights leaders about dramatic efforts his Administration has already made to address urban economic development through initiatives such as Strong Cities, Strong Communities, a program that acts to spur economic growth in urban centers while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently; the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions fund; and the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce.
This is the second time in two years that Obama has held a meeting with civil rights leaders and no black woman had a seat at the table.
In February 2010, the late Dr. Dorothy I. Height was the only black woman invited to the Urban Economy Summit. The then-97-year-old could not attend because of the extreme snow conditions.
There was extreme heat yesterday, but black women leaders felt a cold chill when they realized history was repeating itself. While they're not ready to go on the record, they told me they won't be silent much longer. They have earned a seat at the table. More important, they want to ensure issues of importance to black women and black families are addressed.
And lest the knee-jerk “hater” is bandied about, these are women who year-after-year -- election-after-election -- make things happen. All they're asking for is a little respect.
I took a break from Philly’s geek fest and saw a live performance of the Broadway musical, “Memphis,” captured for the big screen.
The 2010 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical is loosely based on the life of pioneering disc jockey Dewey Phillips. It tells the story of a fictional white DJ, Huey Calhoun, who introduces white kids to “race music.” The back story is one of “fame and forbidden love.”
The unvarnished Memphis was the backdrop for a seminal event in the civil rights movement.
This morning, President Obama will meet with several of the workers who took part in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike. Following the meeting, they will go to the Department of Labor for an induction ceremony.
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced that the 1,300 workers who took part in the sanitation strike will be inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame.
For more info about the Memphis Sanitation Strike, visit “I Am a Man.”
To mark the anniversary, labor unions are holding solidarity rallies in support of workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states, where Republican governors and legislatures are stripping unions of their right to bargain collectively.
Some of the granite blocks that will be used to assemble the “Mountain of Despair” and “Stone of Hope” are visible from Independence Avenue.
The memorial will be dedicated on August 28, the 48th anniversary of Dr. King's “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers expect 125,000 people will attend the dedication ceremony, including President Barack Obama.
The budget for the memorial is $120 million. So far, $100 $109 million has been raised.
Also last week, the Children's Defense Fund released a report, “A Portrait of Inequality 2011,” which documents racial disparities:
The economic crisis of the last three years has pushed Black children and youth deeper and deeper into an abyss of poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair. Black children and youth continue to face multiple risks from birth and throughout life that increase the danger of their becoming part of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis that leads to dead end lives.
Black children are three times as likely to be poor (35%) as White children (12%).
Black children are more than three times as likely as White children to live in extreme poverty: half of the poverty level or less ($10,977 for a family of four).
Fewer than 40 percent of all Black children live with two parents, compared to about 75 percent of White children.Fifty percent of Black children live with only their mother. Black children are almost three times as likely to live with their mother only as are White children.
Seventy percent of Black babies are born to unmarried mothers, more than twice the rate for White babies and higher than for any other racial or ethnic group.
Black babies are more than twice as likely as White babies to be born to a teen mother.