Left to right: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Marc Morial and Angela Glover Blackwell spoke Wednesday evening in Oakland about the risk of President Trump´s policies to African Americans. Photo by Ken Epstein.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee hosted a community forum this week to answer the question posed by Donald Trump to African Americans during his campaign: “What do you have to lose?” The event was held Wednesday evening in the auditorium of Castlemont High School in East Oakland.
Discussing the impact of President Trump’s policies on African Americans and strategies for building the resistance were a panel of speakers hosted by Congresswoman Lee: Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, East Bay Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, BART Director Lateefah Simon and Policy-Link founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell.
“President Trump and his administration are actively undermining progress for the African American community, and we must resist all attempts to roll back progress. Everyone is hurt by unfair polices, and, like Dr. King said, an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Congresswoman Lee.
Morial, who is visiting California on an organizing tour for the Urban League, is the former mayor of New Orleans and a Louisiana State Senator.
“In this political climate, it is imperative that we unify as a community to advocate for a plan that protects and furthers the progress of African Americans,” he said.
“Since 1964, the National Urban League has issued a ‘Main Street Marshall Plan’ with the goal of taking urban America from poverty to prosperity through thoughtful policy solutions and community investments,” he said. “This plan addresses common goals in the areas of education, healthcare, housing, economic empowerment, as well as civic engagement. Without a strategic plan and a commitment to hold those who continue to overlook our communities accountable, our way of life will end as we know it.”
Pointing out that the quality of life for African Americans is 72 percent of that of white Americans in the 70 largest cities in the country, he called for people to mobilize against major risks to the well being of Black communities:
One of the largest risk areas, he said, is a “challenge to the very essence of democracy… (the creation) of a bogus voter integrity commission, (which is) an effort to create a smoke screen for more voter uppression.”
He also called attention to the “assault on the budget, which is an effort to transfer $50 billion from poor people and working people to the military.”
BART Director Simon discussed the federal attacks on criminal justice reform.
“We´re just at the beginning of making the changes we need,” she said. “We are spending millions of dollars on caging people and nothing on healing them.”
Assemblyman Thurmond, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said, “We spend so little on programs – like universal preschool and after school programs – that we know are alternatives to incarceration. We have got to support our young people, and we have got to support our education system.”