Editor's Note: Watch The President's Speech Live on Black Radio Network beginning at 7:00 P.M. EST
By Black Radio Network Staff
WASHINGTON - Ahead of President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress tonight, Black California Congresswoman Maxine Water's is putting the pressure on the president to make clear just what it is he plans to do to help the communities suffering the most in this bad economy.
In a statement issued today, Waters challenged the president to, "spend as much energy working to create jobs in the black community as he is campaigning for votes in one of the whitest states in the nation."
Waters has just returned from the Congressional Black Caucus' series of jobs fair events across the country. She and fellow CBC members are urging Obama to be aggressive in trying to put people back to work.
"If the unemployment rates in the African American Community continue to climb, like they did in August by almost a full percentage point, those African American voters who came out to the polls for the first time in 2008 but who have since lost their home and/or their job, may not return to the polls. Therefore, targeting public policy to a community who accounted for 13 percent of the electorate in ‘08, and who is now experiencing the culmination of a decade of economic crisis, is not just good policy, but good politics," Waters said.
She added, "There are roughly three million African Americans out of work today, a number nearly equal to the entire population of Iowa. I would suggest that if the entire population of Iowa, a key state on the electoral map and a place that served as a stop on the president's jobs bus tour were unemployed, they would be mentioned in the president’s speech and be the beneficiary of targeted public policy. So, one question to be answered this evening is, are the unemployed in the African American community, including almost 45 percent of its youth, as important as the people of Iowa?"
Other members of the Black Caucus feel that the president shares their ideals and goals but has not fought hard enough for them. For example, CBC chairman Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri referred to the deal Obama struck with House Speaker John Boehner to raise the nation's borrowing limit as a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich."
"He must be bold tonight," said Black Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement. "And he must follow it up and be bold on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the following weeks and months to come. He’s got to get up and push and pull. He’s got to do what I call make some noise."