African Americans Seek a Voice in Jobs Bill, Meet with Obama

Benjamin Jealous, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Marc Morial after their meeting with the President. (Photo by Craig Savage)
After emerging from a long-sought meeting with President Obama on the administration's focus - or lack of it - on jobs for African Americans, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous accused Senate Republicans of using "segregationist" tactics to thwart the Obama agenda.
"The Senate Republicans want to keep on using tactics, quite frankly, from the last that were used against black people (now) in this century against working people," Jealous said. "It's not enough to say no, no, no when people are suffering, suffering, suffering across the country."
Asked if he was explictly accusing Senate Republicans of adopting the tactics of southern whites to filibuster civil rights legislation, Jealous said, "I was making a segregationist comparison. Unfortunately, yesterday's Dixiecrats have switched parties in too many instances."
Jealous called what he described as Republican obstructionism as "absolutely insane."
"These tactics of 'Let's obstruct just to send our ratings up'...have got to stop."
The White House declined to comment on Jealous' remarks.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network, and other African American leaders dropped by the Oval Office to talk to the President about the impact that the dismal economic and jobs situation is having on minorities.
Flights in various parts of the region have been iffy, at best, so Sharpton told Fox White House Producer Eve Zibel that he took the train down from New York City this morning to make it in time.
Also in the meeting was National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial. Famed civil rights leader, 97-year-old Dorothy Height did not make it due to the treacherous weather conditions.
After an hour-long meeting with Mr. Obama, Sharpton told the press he wants the voices of minorities to be taken into account when any economic or jobs legislation is drafted.
"This is not about finger-pointing," Sharpton said as snow whirled on the White House driveway. "We need to be part of the discussion; just as labor leaders have been included, just as business leaders [have had their say]."
To aid in that, the group is also pushing for a meeting with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
The President has said in the past that he recognizes the disproportionate effect of unemployment on African Americans and Latinos, but taking a color-blind approach to improving the economy will still benefit those hurt the most. In one of his early press conferences, Mr. Obama said, "the best thing that I can do for the African American community or the Latino community or the Asian community, whatever community, is to get the economy as a whole moving."

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