Black Public Officials Launch New Alliance to Address Critical Policy Issues Facing People of Color in the United States
Leaders of organizations representing African-American public officials are holding a mobilization summit this week to launch a new alliance that will influence public policy on critical issues affecting their constituents, such as Medicaid reform, rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and federal budget priorities.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is the catalyst for the new alliance, which brings together Blacks in Government (BIG), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association, the National Association of Black County Officials/National Organization of Black County Officials (NABCO/NOBCO), the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBCLEO), the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), the National Caucus of Black School Board Members (NCBSBM), the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) and the World Conference of Mayors (WCM).
“From disaster preparedness and responsiveness to equitable access to quality health care, the African-American community and other communities of color are facing unique and difficult challenges in today’s policy environment,” said Togo D. West Jr., president and CEO of the Joint Center. “In such an environment, it is crucial that those who represent these communities collaborate and present a powerful voice in addressing these challenges.”
Key members of the alliance are meeting in Washington, D.C., this week for the “Black Public Officials Summit: Mobilizing to Address Critical Policy Issues.” During panel discussions, the alliance will discuss common policy positions on three key issues that are posing the biggest threat to the health and well being of African-Americans nationwide:
- Medicaid Reform — The Medicaid Commission appointed by President Bush is currently considering reforms to the Medicaid Program that will have a significant negative impact on beneficiaries, a large percentage of whom are African- Americans who may lose or have dramatically reduced healthcare benefits.
- Post-Katrina Rebuilding — Decisions made with regard to the rebuilding effort will have a major impact on the pre-Katrina African-American population of the Gulf Coast, and it is imperative that African-Americans have a significant voice in the decision-making process.
- Federal Budget Priorities — With deficits increasing, priorities established for federal expenditures and revenue generation will have a significant impact on social programs of vital importance to the African-American community.
In the coming months, the alliance will deploy a wide range of strategic activities to mobilize grassroots efforts, which will influence public policy in order to ensure that African-Americans are not endangered.
“Our goal is to create a powerful new alliance that will speak forcefully on issues that are of critical importance to the safety and well-being of African-Americans,” said Dr. Gail Christopher, director of the Joint Center Health Policy Institute. “The time for action is now. Decisions are being made on Capitol Hill and in the White House that could be detrimental to African- Americans and other people of color for decades. We want to raise the awareness of policymakers so that African-American men, women and children can benefit from our nation’s public policy, and to ensure continued progress toward equality.”
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