A second-term agenda for African-Americans
The President stands in front of a Capitol building erected by African-Americans who were not paid for their labor looking towards the Lincoln Memorial erected with thousands of donations from blacks who were segregated during the opening ceremony although Robert Russa Moton was a main speaker.
Visitors who come through Union Station train terminal pass the statue of A. Philip Randolph, who took the segregation of railroad porters and transformed it into the bulwalk of the civil rights movement for more than 50 years.
The inaugural parade passes the headquarters of the National Council for Negro Women, the organization which Mary McLeod Bethune parlayed to bring the notion of equity into President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
Not far from the White House is the African-American Civil War Memorial, with the names of 225,000 who fought to keep the Union intact.
For much of the first Obama term, the agenda was driven by those who still clamor to drive the United States apart. The eerie reminders of Ft. Sumter come from those whom Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed described in a panel at Howard University Friday as "moving from obstructionism to sabotage."
On that same panel, Stefanie Brown James, key strategist for African-American voter outreach in the second Obama campaign, said that black voters were critical to the re-election, despite the lack of media recognition. James said they turned out because their number one issue was the education of their children.
It is the same agenda which led to the creation of the African Free School in New York City in the 1700s just after the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, a high school in Washington, D.C. in the 1830s, schools in churches in San Francisco in the 1850s, thousands of Freedmens schools in the South after the end of the Civil War and 5,000 Rosenwald schools funded by community philanthropy in the early 20th century. It was the thrust of the legal battle of Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall througout most of the 20th century.
The National Black Education Agenda drew parents from across the nation last fall to articulate what black parents want for their children. They came together because their voice has not been heard in the national policy debate or by local and state school administrators. The "educational reform" discussion and more importantly the funding has been dominated by outside interests who have not understood, or even care to understand, the historic values of what education means to African-Americans.
The first and foremost agenda item is to move African-American parents to the forefront of the discussion about the futures of their children. Rather than using accountability measures to pursue a far-right agenda of school privatization, data must be provided directly to parents to determine what steps work. More than $30 billion in federal support will go directly to the education of African-American students. By law, parents have the determinative role in how it is spent. That has never happened. It can.
Evidence-based research shows the primacy of the Woodson infusion strategy -- an immersion in culturally-responsive content to teach core common subjects -- articulated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his book The Miseducation of the Negro. The American Educational Research Association will review this data during a Presidential Session in April featuring Professor Sylvia Wynter, author of Do Not Call Us Negros: How 'Multicultural' Textbooks Perpetuate Racism.
Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, said at the Friday panel that African-Americans must bring an economic agenda to the President which is focused and targeted. "It is not in vogue to talk about what the black community needs. That has to change."
Grant said increasing the one percent level of federal contracts to African-American businesses -- seven percent of all U.S. firms -- is a good starting point.
William Michael Cunningham, president of Creative Investment Research, has taken it on himself to press the federal financial regulatory agencies to not only increase their own spending, but to use their new authority under the Dodd-Frank Act to generate more utilization by the institututions they regulate.
Due to the failure of regulation, more than $400 billion in black family wealth was erased by the financial meltdown. The institutions which carried out that debacle were made whole by taxpayer assistance with extremely favorable terms.
Job Creation and Innovation: State of Black Business, 9th edition, notes that over the past five years, SBA lending to black businesses, insured by the federal government but issued by private banks, has declined more than 75 percent.
Federal Reserve studies have shown that racial discrimination is strongly implicated in the disparities of business lending.
A level of $40 billion in new lending per year for the next five years is needed to meet the credit demands of African-American businesses. Much of that increased activity could be generated by requiring investments by larger institutions in National Bankers Association banks, which are located by and large in the affected communities.
The Affordable Care Act improves the access of African-Americans to health care, however, its implementation should also support the further development of the health infrastructure in those communities. According to Job Creation and Innovation, the 400,000 African-American health-related businesses are the largest sector among the 2 million black firms. Growing those companies through aggregation and innovation and supporting African-American bioengineering ventures such as Aphios, and Amarantus BioSciences can begin to restore wealth along with health.
Historically black colleges and universities should be the focal point of a community innovation strategy by fostering zones of entrepreneurship around the more than 100 campuses so that their alumni have the same option of business creation rather than seeking jobs that has been prevalent near predominately white campuses. Targeting SBIR, technology transfer and research and development funding to those campuses can generate such advances as the recent patent for a HIV therapy from Florida A&M University.
Larger companies are flocking to health care as a hedge against reductions in other sectors of the economy, however, the administration should strongly favor smaller community-based businesses like Atlanta-based BCA Inc. for such areas as medical health records.
For neighborhood revitalization and job creation, the enactment of a National African-American Historical Trail should gain bi-partisan legislative support. As Job Creation and Innovation points out, 20 states have created such trails. Visitors to the nation's capital will see one of the best examples of such designations. Such designations bring tourist traffic which undergirds businesses. In Harlem, the historic black churches draw thousands of visitors each Sunday, supporting hundreds of other businesses.
However, local resistance in many communities mean that important parts of the national legacy are obscured. There is little notice in Georgetown County, South Carolina of the blacks who settled there in the 1500s after escaping from the de Ayllon expedition in 1526. How many people know the first settlers of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles were black?
Such a trail would be an appropriate adjunct to the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall.
The enforcement of equal opportunity provisions for all companies with more than 100 employees should be strengthened during the second term. Statistical tools allow the identification of disparities in some of the fastest growing industries without forcing individuals to take on the gargantuan task of filing complaints.
The U.S. Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics data indicates inexplicable patterns of job separations among experienced African-American workers, even in areas where employers say they can't find workers.
Just south of the Capitol is the newly named Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. One need only wonder how he would react to high levels of African-American unemployment and school dropouts to know that his advice in the current age would be to press such a detailed and targeted agenda for change.