By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
In their annual State of Black America report, called “Protect Our Progress,” the National Urban League (NUL) suggested that the nation should invest in a “Main Street Marshall Plan” that would solidify gains made by Black Americans during the Obama Administration.
The plan includes many policy ideas the NUL has proposed in previous reports including funding for expanding pre-K, increased Pell grant funding, increasing the minimum wage, and funding for summer jobs.
“During the Obama era, the economy added 15 million new jobs, the Black unemployment rate dropped and the high school graduation rate for African Americans soared. Now that progress, and much more, is threatened,” said Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, during a brief press conference about the release of the 2017 report.
By the metrics the report used to assemble their data, the 2017 State of Black America report concluded that:
• The overall equality index for African Americans is 72.3 percent, up from 72.2 percent the year before;
• The social justice index for Black Americans dipped from 60.9 percent to 57.4 percent;
• The health index for Black Americans grew from 79.4 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in the 2017 report.
Morial also suggested that recent activism against many of the Trump Administration’s proposals, including massive cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have been delayed or blocked completely.
“Because of the vital work of the Urban League and other civil rights activists the administration has backed off of many of their first massive proposed cuts,” said Morial. “These cuts would be a massive move backwards for African Americans.”
Morial has a familiar ask: A $4 trillion investment in education, infrastructure and job training. The “Main Street Marshall Plan” is one of the most detailed proposals impacting African Americans put forward by any civil rights organization in the U.S.
“These main streets are in big cities and in small towns…they are where this nation’s poor and middle class live,” said Morial. “We need action and not rhetoric.”
A special about the State of Black America will air on TV One on May 31.
Learn more about the 2017 State of Black America report at http://stateofblackamerica.org.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a speaker, writer and political analyst. She appears on “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin every Monday. Lauren is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.