Black Public Scholars

February 10, 2010

African American Politics: Black Leadership Meets with President Obama

Obama invites black leaders to White House for economic talksWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and three prominent African-American leaders grappled Wednesday with how to improve economic opportunities for blacks, whose joblessness looms well above the national average and is nearly twice that of whites.

On a day of treacherous weather in Washington, Obama kept his scheduled meeting with Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP; Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; and the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network. Dorothy Height, chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women, could not make it to the White House because of the pounding snow and winds that kept most of the nation’s capital shut down.

The meeting did not yield immediate announcements or initiatives.

Obama and the other leaders focused on targeting aid to regions to help black people and other groups that have been hit disproportionately hard by the recession, Jealous told The Associated Press.

"When you try to focus on how to lift all those boats, what you come back to are places — geographic areas, urban and rural, where assistance should be located," he said. "That approach can work if Congress lets it work."

He added: "This is about place. It’s not about race."

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