President Obama Expresses 'Love' for Black Press

Curry | 3/22/2012, 3 p.m.

President Barack Obama expressed admiration for the balanced picture African-American newspapers present of the black community each week, saying such portrayal not only helps blacks but Americans of all races and ethnicities.

"One of the things that I always love about African-American publications is that it's not just gloom and doom," the president told members of National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) last Thursday at a private gathering at the White House. "Part of what you guys do is you lift up that kid who's overcome barriers and is now succeeding, or that family that has pulled together and helped to strengthen a community, or that church that is the bedrock of a neighborhood.

"Those stories of success and hope, that's what sustains us, that's what has driven us, that's what has given people a sense that no matter how tough things get sometimes, there's always a better day ahead. And you're part of telling that story. So I very much appreciate you."

President Obama spoke to publishers who were in the nation's capital to celebrate NNPA's annual Black Press Week. In a 10-minute speech, the president gave the publishers a preview of the case he will be making to voters as part of his campaign to get re-elected.

"Now we've obviously gone through three challenging years but, whereas we were losing about 800,000 jobs per month, the month that I took office, we've now seen job growth over 23 consecutive months, almost 4 million jobs created, jobs in the manufacturing sector for the first time since the 1990s.

"We have seen consecutive quarter after quarter after quarter of economic growth and so we're starting to turn the corner and make progress. But all of you know that too many people, where folks are still struggling that were struggling before this recession and they're struggling now even more. Folks who can't find a job, if they have a job, they're underemployed or not making a living wage."

A recent report by the Department of Labor titled, "The African-American Labor Force in the Recovery," noted: "Aggregate numbers show that the African-American community as a whole has exhibited poorer labor market outcomes than other races even prior to the recession and during the recovery, demonstrating that they often face different and greater challenges."

Overall unemployment stood at 8.3 percent in February. For Whites, it was 7.3 percent, compared to 10.7 percent for Latinos. Black unemployment under Obama peaked at 14.9 percent in June 2009, at the end of the recession, before settling at 15.8 percent last December. It dipped to 13.6 percent in January before rising to 14.1 percent in February.

White unemployment, which has been half the rate of blacks for the past 40 years, peaked at 8.7 percent in June 2009. It fell to 7.4 percent in January and to 7.3 in February.

In his speech, President Obama tried to show that he is aware of the sharp racial disparities.

"African-American communities and Latino communities were disproportionately affected by subprime lending, so a lot of people have lost their homes," he said. "And so everything that we've been doing over the last three years is designed to grow the economy overall, put more people back to work across the board. But also to figure out how we create those foundation stones for helping people get into the middle class and stay in the middle class. What's required to create the sense of security and possibility and opportunity that a lot of people have felt slipping away for decades now. And in some ways, some of the trend lines that have happened across the country happened in the African American community first."