Hearing On Black Job Market Tonight
WASHINGTON, DC – Members of the audience will be permitted to make brief statements and ask questions after Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) Commission on Black Men and Boys hearing entitled, Black Men & Employment: What Black Men Need to Do in the Toughest Job Market in History tonight, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 901 G Street NW. Three witnesses have been called by the Commission, Norton said, “But this issue has tapped into a wave of concern in our community and people need to be heard.” Former D.C. Police Chief, Isaac Fulwood, appointed by President Obama to chair the U.S. Parole Commission, which has jurisdiction over most of D.C. prisoners, is the volunteer chair of the Commission on Black Men and Boys and will chair the hearing. Commission members are African American men in the District whose work has earned them credibility with Black men and other residents. The Commission will hear testimony from Dr. Ronald Walters, a well-known political analyst and former University of Maryland professor, Michael Jones, a hiring law partner at Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and Rodney C. Mitchell, founder of REentry Legal Services, on the factors affecting Black men in securing and maintaining gainful employment.
Norton said, “Perhaps because we are in a time of high unemployment for everyone, there has been too little focus on Black males, whose chronic unemployment even in good economic times sets them apart. An amazing four out of five jobs lost in this economy was held by males, showing that Black men have taken an even larger hit during this recession than women.” She said that the large losses have occurred in male-dominated sectors such as, construction and manufacturing where many African American men have been employed. Norton also said that there can be no doubt that discrimination plays a critical role, citing studies that show that a Black man with no criminal record and a White man with a criminal record have about the same chance of finding employment.
With the national unemployment rate for Black men at 17 percent, and considered higher in the District, Norton said the Commission hearing and audience participation is expected to offer a candid assessment on reasons for these high rates including discrimination, education, and incarceration. She said that Black men have an incarceration rate seven times that of white men, “a factor that cannot be discounted and must be addressed.”
The Congresswoman formed the D.C. Commission on Black Men and Boys in 2001, and the Commission has worked to reveal and help resolve the pressing issues that Black men face, such as high school dropout rates, criminal justice issues, HIV and AIDS, marriage and family issues, and residual discrimination. “The Commission on Black Men and Boys, which knows these issues from the ground up, has been important in encouraging the public to grapple with the conditions of Black men and boys for the greater good of the entire community,” said Norton.