First 100 Days: Key Civil Rights Leaders Give Obama 'A', With 'Incompletes' on Grassroots Economics
Hazel Trice Edney | 4/29/2009, 11:42 a.m.
€We need to remain engaged and hold mayors, governors and local school districts accountable for the stimulus dollars to ensure that African-Americans are included in its benefits,€ Morial says.
Morial also praises Obama for getting off to a fast start with the passage of the stimulus bill, the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree also applauds the President€s appointment of Holder, America€s first Black attorney general and lists a string of observations that have impressed him within the first 100 days, including €his symbolic and substantive decisions evince a level of maturity and calm judgment rarely seen by someone so early in their term as President.€
He gave Obama a 10 for adopting a stringent ethics code for his administration and for suspending the prosecution of suspected terrorists who have been detained, but not charged with offenses for nearly seven years; for outlawing water boarding as an interrogation tactic and for appointing former rival and new York Senator Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State.
However, Ogletree€s wishes for the next 100 days are just as strong as he also points to the need to connect with those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
€I would like the President to do a tour of America and ascertain the extent and the causes of poverty in America and seek a bipartisan set of proposals, comparable to a modern day American Marshall Plan to rebuild America and energize its people from the bottom up,€ Ogletree says. €Furthermore, I would hope that President Obama will continue to work with HBCUS to create our next generation of leaders in business and industry.€
While civil rights leaders across the board applaud the new president, they almost consistently stopped short of the highest rating of 10, noting the incomplete on the issues pertaining to grassroots African-Americans.
€President Obama has tackled some of the critical issues affecting this country, reversed some of the wrongs of the previous administration and has offered hope for all Americans,€ says NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. But, he quickly notes criminal justice issues that need work.
€Forty percent of the prison population is African-American while African-American€s only make up 13 percent of the country€s population,€ Jealous says. €We would like to see the President pass a series of laws that would do away with racial profiling, eliminate the excessive use of force by law enforcement and enforce strict guidelines on prisoner treatment.€
Like other leaders, Jealous also strongly points out economic deficiencies in the Black community.
€Our citizens are losing their homes at a rate we have never seen before, small businesses are folding and more Americans are losing their jobs every day. President Obama needs to address these issues and address them fast,€ Jealous says. €The housing crisis is crippling our country and the administration needs to call for a moratorium on foreclosures on homes. Further, President Obama needs to implement smart policies to stop the exponential job losses and put an end to the hemorrhaging in the small business community.€