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GREENWOOD Dist. – Tonight, Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 9 p.m. ET, President Joe R. Biden will deliver his second State of the Union speech (SOTU) to the American people. But will Black Americans have their issues addressed?
This morning, The Black Wall Street Times got a sneak peek of what POTUS plans to say regarding some of Black America’s concerns.
“The President will talk about what has been done: how the economy has changed how people have gotten back to work, the support he’s given to HBCUs across the country,” Keisha Lance Bottoms, former mayor of Atlanta and Vice Chair of Civic Engagement for President Biden, shared in a White House call to Black Media.
According to the White House, the Biden-Harris Administration has delivered a historic $5.8 billion cumulative investment in and support for HBCUs.
Bottoms added, “the record number of American judges that have been appointed to the bench, including our Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.” She then added “we talked about marijuana reform, the things that the President has done to make sure that our communities have clean drink water.”
Will Biden address renewed calls for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in SOTU?
Mayor Bottoms also mentioned that the President will address Tyre Nichols’ death by five Memphis, Tennessee police officers and the renewed calls for reform, including the need for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which failed after Senator Tim Scott, a Black Republican, and his political party killed the bill last September.
Sitting in First Lady Jill Biden’s SOTU box tonight will be RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of police victim Tyre Nichols.
How the US Economy is Working for Black Americans
Shalanda Young, Biden’s Director of Office of Management Budget, shared that the president will talk about the continued “need to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out so that it works for everybody and leaves no one behind.”
Young added what the Biden-Harris Administration has accomplished over the past two years, which includes lowering the Black unemployment rate.
“The unemployment rate is down 3.4%, the lowest level since 1969. For Black Americans it’s down 5.4%, matching the second-lowest rate on record.” It’s also down 0.4% for Black Americans since the September numbers came out.
“We’ve presided over the two strongest years for small business applications on record. We’ve increased the share of federal contract dollars flowing to small disadvantaged businesses, including Black-owned businesses. We’re giving families more breathing room, inflation is going down, wages are going up and people are starting to feel the impacts of the President’s Inflation Reduction Act.
“Whether it’s capping insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare bringing down prescription drug pause, or lowering families energy bills, all this adds up and we’re looking at an economy that is very much on the right track, but we’ve got more work to do,” the Director of Office of Management Budget says.
Young said that Biden’s Economic Budget will release on March 9th and will show the president’s continued plan to invest in the American people, which included “lowering costs for families protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare and ensuring the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.”
US Infrastructure and Environmental Injustice
Mitch Landrieu, the Biden-Harris Administration’s Infrastructure Senior Advisor, said, “This President has the African American community and communities of color at the top of his mind all the time. So there are massive investments in improving transit systems because we know how important that is, delivering clean school buses to our kids, making sure that we get the lead out of the water because we know how damaging that can be to the brain function of our kids, making sure that our kids don’t have to sit the back of this momma’s car trying to do their homework in the parking lot of a McDonald’s because you don’t have access to high-speed internet and therefore no access to a future economy.”
Landrieu also said that POTUS plans to address ‘legacy pollution’ that disproportionately affects communities of color in tonight’s SOTU.
“These are things like superfund sites, brownfield sites, dirty lakes, dirty water, that affect our communities, reconnecting neighborhoods that have been torn apart by driving a highway down the middle of historically African American communities, and of course, the Justice 40 Initiative, which says that 40% of these benefits should actually go to communities of color.”
Will Biden Discuss K-12 Education in SOTU?
A National Parents Union (NPU) poll found that 84% of parents say the federal government should provide free lunch at school for all K-12 public school students, 79% want funding provided directly to families of public school students to help them pay for additional mental health support for their children (e.g., counseling outside of school), and 74% want the expanded Child Tax Credit reinstated to give eligible families monthly checks of $300 per child under age 6 and $250 per child age 6 or older 7.
Whether President Biden will address the issues of parents in his SOTU speech tonight is still unknown. Nevertheless, the NPU poll also found that only 36% of parent voters believe the country is on the right track.
Still lingering on voters’ minds for educators, students, and families is the continuous culture war on African American scholars, their curriculum, and LGBTQIA+ students’ rights and protections in right-wing states.