04.13.15

Report on Economic Challenges in Black Community is “Our Call to Action,” says Congresswoman Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following on the newly released Joint Economic Committee report on the Persistent Economic Challenges in Black Community:

“Today’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report paints a bleak picture of the economic state of the African American community and reminds us that more action is needed to ensure our economic recovery reaches everyone.

With today’s report, I am reminded of an April 14th, 1967 speech that Dr. King gave entitled “Two Americas.” He said: ‘there are literally two Americas. One America…is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity…tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair.’

Sadly, today’s report shows that these two Americas still exist nearly five decades later.

Today’s report finds that more than one-in-four African Americans lives in poverty; that’s more than three times the rate for white Americans.

African American unemployment is more than double the rate of white Americans and median income is nearly $24,000 less than the median income of white households.

It’s past time for Congress to act to ensure the American dream is open to all.

As a co-chair of the CBC Task Force on Poverty and the Economy as well as Chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity, I am proud to be working with my colleagues to advance policies that lift all Americans out of poverty and into the middle class.  

I have introduced the Half in Ten Act (H.R. 258) to develop a national strategy to halve poverty in the next decade and lift more than 22 million Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. I hope my colleagues will join me in working to pass this important legislation.

Fundamentally, this report is our call to action – as Dr. King reminded us in his “Two Americas” speech, we must act boldly.

He said: ‘We must come to see that social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals.’

We must, each of us, be those dedicated individuals working persistently for the social progress that is so greatly needed.”

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.