VIA: New York Times
With unemployment among blacks at more than 15 percent, the N.A.A.C.P. will join several other groups on Tuesday to call on President Obama to do more to create jobs.
The organizations — including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group— will make clear that they believe the president’s $787 billion stimulus program has not gone far enough to fight unemployment.
They will call for increased spending for schools and roads, billions of dollars in fiscal relief to state and local governments to forestall more layoffs and a direct government jobs program, “especially in distressed communities facing severe unemployment.”
In speaking out on jobs, N.A.A.C.P. leaders say they are not trying to pick a fight with the first African-American president. Rather, they say, they are pressing Mr. Obama in an area where they believe he wants to be pressured.
“It’s time for us to really stoke this issue up,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.’s senior vice president for advocacy and policy. “We’re not so much trying to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do, but urging him to move forward on an issue we have agreement on.”
African-American leaders say it makes sense to pressure the president on jobs because the unemployment rate for blacks has jumped to 15.7 percent, from 8.9 percent when the recession started 23 months ago. That compares with 13.1 percent for Hispanics and 9.5 percent for whites.
The black unemployment rate has climbed above 20 percent in several states, reaching 23.9 percent in Michigan and 20.4 percent in South Carolina.
In recent months, the N.A.A.C.P. has lobbied Mr. Obama on numerous issues, including the hate crimes bill and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for employees to sue over pay discrimination. But this is the first time in Mr. Obama’s presidency that the organization is throwing its full weight into the economic debate.
It is being joined by another group that fought for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
“Make no mistake, for us this is the civil rights issue of the moment,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference. “Unless we resolve the national job crisis, it will make it hard to address all of our other priorities.”
Mr. Obama has invited groups nationwide to voice their views and recommendations on jobs in preparation for his job summit next month.
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