Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Joint Economic Committee Democrats recently held a public forum at the Harlem Hospital Center in New York, where they discussed the impact of economic challenges and persistent inequities facing the African-American community.
Friday’s forum — “The American Dream on Hold: Economic Challenges in the African-American Community” — was hosted by Reps. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), CBC chair; Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee; Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), CBC founding member; Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Among the panel members were William “Sandy” Darity, Duke University professor; Hazel Dukes, president, NAACP New York State Conference; David Jones, president and CEO, Community Service Society of New York; and C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO, National Black Leadership Commission.
“From persistent poverty, perennially high unemployment, and lower wages, in addition to inequitable application of justice and treatment under the law – African-American communities around the country are facing critical hardships,” Butterfield said. “This forum was designed to help us take a closer look at some of the most pressing issues facing African-Americans in New York and around the country. It allows us to highlight the incredible work that lies ahead as we identify ways to repair the damage stemming from a history of racial division so that all Americans can enjoy equality, fairness and opportunity.”
Maloney said the forum served as a tool for educating both Congress and the public on the “stark” economic disparities between black America and white America.
“For millions, the American dream is still on hold. We need to change that, and understanding the scope of the problem is critical to doing so,” she said.
Rangel noted that the American dream is not a reality for many working families, particularly those of color.
“While the American dream of prosperity, security and opportunity is still the standard by which most people measure success, for today’s families, that dream seems impossibly out of reach,” Rangel said.