WASHINGTON — Less than a month after President Barack Obama won his second term, the National Urban League summoned Bernard Anderson to a meeting in the capital.
The invitation was no surprise. Anderson is giant: an economist and prominent author, the first African American granted tenure at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor and chair of the National Urban League’s Council of Economic Advisers.
The real surprise was the meeting agenda: not to celebrate Obama’s historic victory, but to develop a strategy forcing him to pay more attention to Black America.
Anderson was one of more than 40 civil rights, social justice, health care, business and community development leaders in attendance. And at that Dec. 3 gathering just across Lafayette Square from the White House, no single issue occupied more time or generated more discussion than Anderson’s report on the fragile economic status of black Americans.
“What happened in that room is indicative of what so many of us, including the president and I know his wife, have known and felt for some time,” Anderson told The Huffington Post. “It would not bother me if he never made another speech before the Urban League or the NAACP. What he needs to do is use his office, the bully pulpit and actual policy to address the persistence of racial inequality in economic life. If he does that, then I think his presidency will be redeemed.”
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