Forum Points to Why The American Dream is on Hold For Many in the African American Community

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BALTIMORE, MD – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) heard from Baltimore clergy, community leaders, and academics on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at a forum to discuss the vast disparities in economic conditions for African Americans and whites.

The forum titled: The American Dream on Hold: Economic Challenges in the African American Community, was hosted by Congressman G. K. Butterfield, Chairman of the CBC, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Ranking Democrat on JEC and Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Members of the CBC and Congressional Representatives of Maryland were also in attendance.

At the heart of the forum was a JEC report that found striking disparities between blacks and whites in employment, wealth, housing and education.

“Today’s forum was designed to take a closer look at some of the most pressing issues facing African Americans in Baltimore and throughout the country,” Rep. Butterfield said. “Our work still remains and nowhere is this more evident than within the African American community.  From persistent poverty, double digit unemployment, and lower wages, in addition to inequitable access to justice and treatment under the law – in order to resolve these issues, we first must confront the underlying cause and have a strong dialogue on racism and how it is so ingrained in American culture, both consciously and otherwise. Let today’s conversation serve as a way to recharge our focus on what we each must do to ensure that all Americans, but particularly African Americans, have a fair shot at achieving the American dream.”

“The data from the JEC report won’t shock the people of Baltimore because they live these numbers every day. But it may surprise many others in America who are insulated from some of the problems we face,” Rep. Maloney said. “The numbers are stark: African Americans are three times as likely to live in poverty than whites. The current employment rate for blacks is more than double the rate for whites – higher even than white unemployment at its peak during the recession. And the median white household has 13 times the wealth of the median black household. The recent racial tragedies in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, Charleston and elsewhere have opened new dialogue about race. Let us seize that opportunity to make sure that every American has a real opportunity to succeed.”

“So much work remains to be done to help African Americans overcome the economic hurdles intentionally thrown up in their paths,” Rep. Cummings said. “This forum allowed us the opportunity to hear from experts about the decades of policies and decisions that created these disparities and what must be done to eliminate them.”

Panelists included:

  • Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO, Global Policy Solutions
  • James Carr, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and Distinguished Scholar, The Opportunity Agenda
  • Dr. William Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Michael Cryor, Chairman, One Baltimore
  • Stokey Cannady, Founder/CEO, The Stokey Project
  • Darius Davis, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harbor Bank
  • Sheridan Todd Yeary, Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community Church
  • Dr. Louis Wilson, Pastor, New Song Community Church
  • Munir Bahar, COR Health Institute
  • Tessa Hill-Ashton, President, NAACP (Baltimore City Chapter)

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