Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP issued the following statement:
WASHINGTON - As I sat in the audience while President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, I listened intently.
But I also watched -- and what I saw was just as powerful as everything that I heard.
I witnessed the faces of senators as he discussed the state of our economy. I saw Michelle Obama's face grow solemn with the mention of the Tucson tragedy. And in the face of the President, I saw the same strength and courage that so many Americans have displayed in these difficult times.
As he did in Tucson last week, the President made a noble effort to move our country past petty political posturing tonight. He reminded the nation that that we are one people, and that we must care for each other -- our beliefs, our health, our livelihoods -- as we would ourselves. He reminded us all of what it means to be American.
Congress and the White House must now take up these challenges, for the betterment of our economy and our prosperity. But they won't get it done unless we get engaged, raise our voices and defend our children's future.
Take a moment to tell our leaders it's time to pull our country together by putting it back to work:
The President laid out his plan to move our country through this critical time in our history. His plans to embrace innovation, spur job creation and foster compromise are bold, attainable and much needed.
But too often, difficult economic times bring out the worst in lawmakers. Last week, the state of Texas defunded higher education programs to the tune of $1.7 billion. Meanwhile our sisters and brothers in North Carolina are fighting a previously unthinkable attempt by their state legislators to re-segregate public schools. These are powerful reminders that even our nation's most noble victories can disappear when we are not vigilant.
The next two years will be a test. We can either act as if all our gains are just sand castles on the beach waiting for the tide to wipe them out -- or we can rise up and defend them.
It's time to get to work.
As we continue on a road toward economic recovery, we must invest not just in the infrastructure that keeps this country moving forward, but also in the human capital we rely on to lead our nation. Smart investments in education, health care and innovation will allow every American -- even the least advantaged among us -- to compete in tomorrow's global marketplace and have a shot at the American dream.
These goals are attainable, but if recent history has taught us anything, it is that they will not come without a fight. Predatory lenders, the greediest Wall Street bankers and the most cynical political leaders would like nothing more than to see the status quo remain in effect.
We need you. Our only chance to hold on to the gains we have made and hold our leaders accountable to a vision of America long promised, but not yet realized, is to organize in our communities, participate online and raise our voices in the name of fairness, justice and opportunity.
It is up to us to embolden our leaders. We have come so far, and we will continue moving forward -- as long as we have your support.
Now is the time to be vigilant, not silent. Let's get to work.
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO