WASHINGTON — On the campaign trail in August, President Trump appealed for African-American votes during a rally in a Lansing, Mich., suburb.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said.
So when the Congressional Black Caucus finally met with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, they handed the president a 125-page report titled “We Have a Lot to Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century.”
The meeting included Trump, Vice President Pence, Omarosa Maginault and three other administration officials with CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). The CBC’s sole GOP member, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), was not in attendance.
The White House said that during the closed-door meeting “the participants discussed various issues pertaining to the African American community, including the president’s commitment to improving conditions for distressed communities.”
“The president voiced his desire to work with the CBC to improve educational and economic opportunities, enhance public safety, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and invest in infrastructure,” the readout added.
“Throughout my campaign I pledged to focus on improving conditions for African-American citizens, this means more to me than anybody can understand,” Trump said when the press pool was briefly allowed in the meeting room.
The CBC tweeted afterward that Richmond told Trump his comments about President Obama and inner cities were “hurtful” to the African-American community and that Carson, one of two Muslim members of Congress, told Trump “he is Muslim & Muslims shouldn’t be treated differently and #MuslimBan is not who we are.”
Moore told Trump “that the poor are being criminalized and we need to give folks a pathway out of poverty,” while Lawrence advocated for infrastructure improvements especially in Flint, Mich.
The document they handed to the president argues the black community has “lost a lot already in a little more than the first 50 days” of Trump’s presidency.
“African Americans continue to face racism and discrimination that result in disparities across a wide range of issues, from equal access to a quality education, to police brutality and voter suppression,” the CBC lawmakers wrote in their summary. “However, to consider the state of Black America without historical context denies the origins of the problems that continue to plague our communities, as well as the centuries long battle to bring our people to this point. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, people who built this country and its wealth while toiling, fighting, and dying for our collective freedom. To deny our history or surrender in the struggle for a more perfect union would dishonor their sacrifice. That is something we simply will not do.”
The CBC stressed that it was honored to have the opportunity “to enlighten President Trump on the history and diversity of African Americans and offer bold policy solutions to advance our communities, and all Americans, in the 21st century.”
The Black Caucus called on the Trump administration “to strengthen voter protections and reform the criminal justice system from end-to-end.”
“We call on this Administration to address the expanding wealth and income gaps between the rich and the poor in this country and strengthen the ladders that lift millions of Americans out of poverty. We call on the Trump Administration to commit to basic principles of humanity and decency, mainly that every child should have access to a high quality education and every life deserves affordable, quality health care,” the document continues. “The CBC calls on this Administration to improve the circumstances of the American worker and prepare our nation’s workforce for the challenges of the future. We call on the Trump Administration to guarantee that every American has equal access to clean air, water, and soil. Finally, we call on the Trump Administration to address the unique challenges in Rural America and help revitalize these oft forgotten communities.”
“If President Trump is sincere in his interest in advancing the Black community, this document should be the guiding post of his Administration.”
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