President Barack Obama will speak directly to Black Americans this week, which I believe is part of the President’s ongoing crusade to outline a national social agenda to uplift citizens of color. Obama is scheduled to headline Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) conference in New York April 9th through April 12th.
The President’s appearance at Sharpton’s conference comes as Sharpton has been speaking out about several high-profile racial cases involving black teenagers being killed by whites or dying under mysterious circumstances. Sharpton has also been vocal about voting rights and GOP suppression tactics, and the ongoing assault on Obama by congressional Republicans.
As a co-host for Sharpton’s national radio program, Keeping it Real with Rev. Al Sharpton, I have listened to Sharpton talk passionately about the significance of Obama speaking at his conference, but it is also true that Obama considers Sharpton a powerful voice for justice in the black community – and someone Obama takes seriously.
In his second term in office, I believe the president is focused more boldly –and more specifically – on uplifting African-Americans while creating a social agenda that benefits Black people. Each month, it seems, the president is using his White House bully pulpit to talk more about social justice issues, economic and health reforms – and how these policies impact African-Americans and Hispanics.
On Thursday, Obama will speak at the University of Texas, which is hosting a three-day Civil Rights Summit this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The summit will look back at the civil rights movement and address contemporary racial issues.
Could Obama be looking ahead to his legacy with two years remaining in the White House? Last month at the White House, Obama met with several civil rights leaders including Sharpton about raising the minimum wage, black unemployment, health care, voting rights and education.
“We talked extensively about the challenges of unemployment, the challenges of under-employment, the challenges of black and urban and brown unemployment in this nation,” Marc Morial, president of The National Urban League, told reporters after the meeting with Obama and U.S Attorney Eric Holder.
“It was helpful to us to hear the president and his team clarify some misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act, one (being) that it adds to the deficit when all the projections are that it will reduce the deficit,” Morial said.
Since that meeting, Obama also unveiled “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,” a national program designed to improve the quality of life for young African American boys.