First African American policy conference held at White House
November 9th, 2011
05:48 PM ET

First African American policy conference held at White House

Washington (CNN) - While President Obama has enjoyed relatively strong support from the African American community, grievances have been palpable over the disproportionate affect the weak economy has had on the black community.

Today the White House chose to address many of the concerns directly, hosting the first African American Policy in Action Leadership Conference. Cabinet officials and top White House staff sat on panels enumerating the president’s efforts and achievements that affect unemployment, health care and education among the areas of greatest issue.

Like going to church, there were moments of praise and prayer during the meeting. Congenial, but serious, the room of community and civil rights leaders, academics, faith leaders, and elected officials sought insight on how policies will address the most harrowing issues their communities face. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the growing poverty in his city has exceeded New York City’s in number of hungry children.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told the group that 20 percent of African Americans don’t have health insurance.  Her opening remarks highlighted the dichotomy that exists in American health care services: “We have some of the best health care in the world, and some of the worst care in the world,” said Sebelius, pointing out that at issue is access for many of the poor and people of color.

Timed to the conference was the release of a new policy report outlining how administration policies impact the African American community.  Sebelius touted the extra one million children who she says currently have access to health care as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Recent initiatives to reintegrate veterans into the workforce were the focus of one afternoon breakout session.  A campaign to encourage business leaders to see the value in hiring veterans also highlighted the specific training they need when transitioning to civilian life.  Organizations like the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. were also present to talk about how they help address the behavioral changes that career military personnel need.

Despite the challenges, 86 percent of African Americans recently polled by NBC/Wall Street Journal/theGrio.com are still satisfied with how the president is handling the economy.

The most memorable moment during the conference came when the president paid a visit to the group just before lunch. “We’ve been through tougher times…our parents have been through tougher times,” said the president.  His then called for faith and unity as he and the administration move forward.


Topics: President Obama • The Buzz

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soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Liz Carter in Georgia

    That's what we need President Obama. We were wondering when was this focus ever going to happen. We've been falsely labled by 'some' as the biggest burden of the 'entitlements programs', so it would stand to reason this action should've been taken long before now! Especially since many of our working poor were already doing badly before the near depression. However...I understand why you may have hesitated. Our evil counterparts would've stood up screaming..RACISM! In the next breath..we're the MOST needy!

    November 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • jrobinson

      The only problem, Liz, is that the majority of people on welfare are white. So your comments are cliche as well as stupid. You're obviously racist; since everything in the world seems to appear to you in those terms.

      There is simply no reason to have a conference of this sort; dissecting the unemployment numbers by race IS a racist exercise, and any possible "solution" to such a situation must, by definition, be racist as well. So, its really just a bunch of racists getting together to think of a racist policy to affect the problem they see through their racist lenses. And people like Liz, lining up to publicly voice their approval for this racism.

      There is no way to "racially fix" the jobs problem. There's no way you can "fix" the problem more for one race or another without being racist yourself. And any solution to the jobs problem would have to be race-neutral in the first place; one would have to make it race-specific. This makes no sense logically, ethically, racially, or economically.

      Nothing good can come from any of it.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • SaintM

        JRobinson – beg to differ. White's receive more welfare because they actually apply for it. My guess is that many African Americans don't apply for it because they think that their race will count against them–like we've never seen anything like that before in our lives. There are a lot of white people who have figured out a way to scam the system and are receiving benefits fraudulently.

        November 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • C4CFED

      The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) invites the President to do an Executive Order mandating discipline for public officials who discriminate. Internal discrimination federal sector policymakers continues to negatively impact the public. African-Americans, other minorities as well as non-minorities who expose such injustice are often negatively targeted. Civil servants, who operate with integrity on such issues, too often face retaliation including termination.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    They talk out of both sides of their mouths. We have always had to accept the degredation of being the ones dragging on the government..but when the government tries to institute policies that could potentially aid in a reduction in that 'drag', Oh Boy... then that is spinned, twisted and construed as RACISM! 'Oh...I thought he was the President of ALL AMERICANS'! In the next breath..the same ones turn right around and say..'HE AIN'T MY PRESIDENT'! OMG! So fickle. Well on your marks! get set! let's go!

    November 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Maggie

      Liz, I think you drank too much of Obama's kool-aid!!!!!!! He is suppose to be the president of ALL americans and not just black americans. Is he going to hold a White American Policy Conference too? I wonder if Goerge Bush had done a White American Policy Conference if black americans would accept that. I will you right now, they would never never accept it!!!!

      November 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  3. jersey3038

    This is racist. Could you imagine a conference on white issues? It's wrong either way.

    November 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Lisa C

      No, racism is the faux belief that one is inherently superior over another for no other reason than physical characteristics and abilities. The belief in such foolishness translates into policies that typically bolster the superiority complex (usually in a majority). Blacks are typically overlooked in a number of ways due to those policies. Example: federal funds are distributed based on state and local leadership decisions. State and local leaders, who have cursed themselves with the superiority complex, redistribute those funds as according to their district boundaries that are typically drawn disproportionately in favor of those with the complex. This leaves minorities without the proper funding to adequately educate the people of their communities; which leads to an inability to attract jobs; which leads to higher crime rates. See? Those that have the curse, typically throw rocks and hide their hands; then monitor how the people who they threw rocks at, are handling it. Now, there wouldn't be a need for anything that includes the title "Black" or "African American" if those with the superiority complex (usually in the majority) weren't prejudiced or racists or throwing rocks with their policies and statistical comparisons in the first place. Ta-daaa!

      November 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  4. m

    Obama has made himself far too available and familiar. And his everyone needs to love me insecurity is pathetic. No wonder the turnover in his administration has been so high. Hope he uses the White House to host a Native American indian synmposium too. Remember, them? The forgotten, tossed into poverty and barely livable reservation people?

    November 9, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • jrobinson

      Actually, he already did that. He convened a meeting of all the tribes his first year. I'm not necessarily against that... so far, though, it hasn't lead to much of anything except a push for federal reserve status for native Hawaiians. Which sounds fine on the surface, but it looks like its just another scheme to launder asian election money through the tribe – which would be exempt from campaign laws. In addition, it raises another question... can a state be a reservation, too? If you give the Hawaiians tribal status, the ENTIRE state will become their reservation. What, exactly, happens to Hawaiian statehood?

      November 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  5. what

    Are you F(*)*ing KIDDING ME? I guess segregation does still exist.... It is a double standard of course..

    November 10, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  6. truindep

    no comment

    November 10, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  7. Militant6598

    now the white blue-eyed demoncrat liberal has decided to let the plantation monkeys to have a conference, blacks which I call slavacrats. It's funny how this mulatto, you the 85% voted for him, has not did a damn thing for black people since he has been in the whitehouse', but all of a sudden he is having conferences with the black leaders because it's getting close to election. That's the way it is all the time and black people don't see it or don't want to see it. I compare what the mulatto and the demoncrats to this analogy: I compare it to a Quickie the woman wants love and affection during sex, but the man, wham bam thank you mam, he's through. He got what he want but she didnt, obama represents the man and the 85% represent the woman. He shows up when he needs you to vote.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Lisa C

      You couldn't be human. You must be a principality.

      November 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
      • David

        And you must be a moron.

        November 11, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • AFFIRMATIVE EXODUS

      I am amazed at how uncivilized swamp crakers still are. First you support a racist system, that has disenfanchised you along with other economically challenged groups; then get mad when they try to collectively voice a grievance. I do understand that albino baboons are limited in critical thinking, but should at least be able to exercise self preservation. I do believe that we as a freed people should have taken the boat back to our native origin, when Marcus Garvey was urging us to use self determination as a building block to humane existence. We could have left this land to the REAL AMERICANS as Miserable Palin put it. And allowed God to setforth his wrath.

      November 14, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  8. Militant6598

    have a conference i mean

    November 10, 2011 at 1:49 am |
  9. GrouchyKat

    Of course they're satisfied. the Obamanation is black. Has anyone noticed that the majority of the OWS is white? Could it be because all the attenion is being put on African Americans and Latinos? How they aren't doing well in the Dum-o-crap world of gimme gimme gimme Nursie? What about a summit that actually DOES something for ALL of America, not a single race?

    November 10, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  10. vinnie

    Wow the ignorance of some people is unreal! Might as well say i hate n-word. Like they say if white america catches a cold black america comes down with the flu. When whites lose jobs blacks lose twice as many jobs. Less than one percent of the Small businesses in U.S are black owned. This is why black unemployment is so high. If black ownership was more readily available these numbers would drastically decrease.But as we are all aware of blacks can't get small business as frequently as their white counterparts. Nobody wants a handout, but the banks make class warefare continue by keeping blacks from ownership. Divide and conquer. So Grouchykat as i would tell my son "do your homework."

    November 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • jrobinson

      That's what it must be. They must all be racists. After all, that's what the pamphlet that came with your koolaid says...

      November 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • SHEHULK

      Vinnie,

      That is incredulous! Every person who is of legal status here in the United States of America has the ability to start their own business. Every single one, that they do not do it is their own business. Every black child in the United States of America has the opportunity to go to college, to get a degree in the field of their choice, and to change their lives; if said black children do not follow through with their education and fall into poverty then that is their own choice. There is not a white man holding them back and not letting them go to Harvard, UCLA, or any other university. There is also not a white man standing on the corner who tells them that they are not capable of starting their own business. When does it become the parent's responsibility to teach their children to aspire for more in life? When does the Black Man become responsible for his actions? Where does the accountability lie? You cannot blame the failures of the African American community on the "white man" for ever. Wake up, its 2011...

      November 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Macha

    This is the sort of thing that adds to the devisive atmosphere in this country. News flash, we are ALL supposed to be AMERICANS, not African-americans, Latin-americans, Native-americans, European-americans and so on. Interestingly enough this sort of thing comes more often from the party that makes an issue of being supposedly nonpredudicial and unconcerned with a persons race.

    November 10, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  12. jean2009

    Obama-Biden 2012

    November 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Pete

      Oboma is dividing this country
      Why can't we just be called Americans

      November 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Greg

    DEM 2012 EXIT POLL*
    WHITES 24%
    ASIANS 24%
    LATINOS 40%
    BLACKS 99%
    ILLEGAL ALIENS 100%
    THE DEAD 100%
    SEIU 200%
    TEAMSTERS 250%
    ABSENTEE MILITARY 000%
    (ballots arrive to late to qualify)

    *obamma runs unopposed in 7 of the 57 states

    November 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Lisa C

      Did you see an exit poll during Clinton's election or did you care then? How about Gore/Edwards? Go check it out, come back with your stats, then we may be able to have an intelligent debate. But as of right now, you sound like a ranting lunatic.

      November 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
      • David

        You got "Kool-aid" on your blue dress Lisa.

        November 11, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  14. GrouchyKat

    I don't hate a race – I hate the attitude that specific groups have – and yes, that includes the white trailer trash. The attitude of I should be entitled because of the color of my skin and how my race has been held down and forced into poverty. You are responsible for how you do – not the government. There needs to be a real way to address the needs of ALL Americans, not just those of a specific race. No, OWS is not addressing this issue, they're just yelling – a lot. Find a way to fix it for all Americans – and don't just raise taxes on the 53% who actually work and pay taxes to support everyone else.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  15. SukieTawdry

    Obama reverts to form. The Obama Rule of Thumb when confronted with a sticky political issue: Step 1 – Commission a study, convene a summit or schedule a conference and punt until the report comes out. Step 2 – Lavishly praise the participants and tout the report. Step 3 – Stick the report in the back of a drawer and never mention it again.

    November 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  16. hughglass

    African American Policy? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Pretty easy..Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.

    November 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Not Chicken Little

    Sounds totally racist to me – based solely on the color of one's skin. Not the content of one's character as MLK Jr. wanted, and as millions upon millions of AMERICANS want. Of course based on the content of one's character, Obama is an epic FAIL.

    November 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Maggie

      I agree with you 100%. In my comment I said the same thing. How would African Americans feel if there was a White American Policy Conference at the WH when George Bush was president. We would never hear the end of it. Why is ti okay for minority races to have activities like this but if the shoe was on the other foot and it was a White activity, it would be scorned at. It definitely be called racists. Hypocritical!!!!!!!

      November 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
      • Lisa C

        There already is a White American Policy Conference. They're just able to get away with not calling it such.

        November 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  18. Maggie

    I wonder if we had White American Policy Conference if that would be accepted. I suppose because of the affirmative action we would have to include some minorities. Why do we continue to segregate activities between races? Why is not an All American People Policy Conference which makes more sense to me. Is it just me that's offfended by this? Are we not all Americans?

    November 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  19. SHEHULK

    Look, the year is 2011, we should be past having to separate conferences by race. African American children are not the only starving children in the US. There are starving white children, starving Hispanic children, starving Asian children; there are many starving children. The African American community is also not the only community having to deal with unemployment. Thousands of people across the country of all colors, races, cultures and nationalities are struggling to find a job, put food on the table, and make ends meet; let us not limit the needs of the nation to only one population. Also, if you are willing to put together an African American Conference, then you must also be prepared to put together a Hispanic Conference, a White Conference, an Asian Conference and a conference for every other race and culture. At what point does the "United States of America" actually become "united"?

    November 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  20. C-Lo

    I'm just curious, were the following invited–Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, Chris Gardner, Stanley O'neal, steveo, Oprah, Sean Combes...

    November 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  21. Steveo

    I just checked the mail C-Lo, I got nothing, LOL!

    November 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • C-Lo

      It was probably tweeted to you...I'll send a letter on your behalf and see if that gets you in!

      November 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  22. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @jrobinson; my comments were stupid? How so? I thought they made explicitly good sense. LOL! I SAID WE WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN 'FALSELY' LABELED AS BEING THE BIGGEST BURDEN ON THE 'ENTITLEMENTS PROGRAM'. We have had to accept degredation from 'some' illiterates because of it! I know full well there are more poor whites on entitlements than blacks..I've argued that very point with other bigots on this blog. The point I was making this time is, since folks like to keep claiming it, his focus ought to be on blacks?

    November 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  23. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @jrobinson; as far as the breaking down of the unemployment stats racially, you may need to complain to your 'superior race' corporately owned news media 'economists', pundits and 'politicians', but that doesn't say that they're telling lies. There ARE more blacks whose jobs have been lost! We hadn't even talked about the ones who of us who were already blocked or locked out of the job force; for all sorts of reasons; some personal discrepancies, even before the near fall of the Great American Empire!

    November 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  24. Liz Carter in Georgia

    ...And yes there DOES need to be a problems identifying, addressing, resolutional focus conference on African Americans struggles, stresses and plights of trying to maintain...not GET RICH! Just to maintain a simulance of a life for the middle-class and poor, still trying to live in America! Oh yes they do need to come up with ideas to fix the jobs opportunities, education and other problems that've historically plagued the potentiality of AA success and still do for 99% of the 12% populous in America.

    November 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  25. Liz Carter in Georgia

    jrobinson; there are still jobs that whites feel are beneath them! They shouldn't have to do HARD labor; especially if they have a little education...didn't you know that? Well those are the ones many blacks have worked historically and many will do them now. Since it looks like your GOP Congress won't let OBAMA pass his jobs bill..LOOKS LIKE THEY DON'T WANT BLACKS, WHITES NOR OTHERS WORKING UNDER AN OBAMA ADMINISTRATION! My point is though, there are still 'COLORED' and 'WHITE' jobs in America OK? Be real!

    November 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  26. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Maggie; Oh it has been a standing understanding that everything was meant for or geared towards white America unless otherwise specified or labeled...OK? It hadn't changed that much...it's just carried out more covertly. It didn't die with the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Why did we have to come up with our own 'BLACK' this and 'BLACK' that? That should tell a fool that we weren't and really still aren't welcomed into many white organizations...Oh unless our name is PUPPET CAIN/KOCH BROTHER! LOL!

    November 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  27. Liz Carter in Georgia

    You say you're amazed at how uncivilized SWAMP CRAKERS still are?!? Ifyou have time or by chance ever run back across this thread again, and if it's not too much trouble for you, Would you please explain or identify the person (s) to whom you are referring? Thanking you in advance...I remain a fighting 99%er, a SOLDIER in the ARMY of the LORD, and a troop in the OBAMA/BIDEN REGIMENT!

    November 16, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Liz, as I understand it, your form of access to this is maybe a smart-phone? and you don't see the layout the way we do on computers. There are indentations that show when a post is a reply to another post.

      That being said, I'm going to try to help you out on your question about "uncivilized swamp rats" anticipating "afirmative exodus" will not. S(he) was referring to the post by "Militant6598" and if you read that post...I think you'll understand the meaning behind what (s)he wrote. It was all pretty ugly.

      Hope you are well.

      November 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  28. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @jersey3038; EVERTHING, every group or caucus is in the behalf of white issues unless otherwise SPECIFIED! We're not stupid...so don't play us ALL for being illiterate or on crack, OK? We know that there are 'wolves' that are just dressed in 'sheeps' clothing and have been since 'THE STRUGGLE'! We know SOME 'wolves' didn't DIE with Martin Luther King, Jr! They just come at us from a different angle! Problem is, some of us don't care to speak about it. Some of us just turn our heads like they aren't there!!

    November 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Liz Carter racist comment of the day "every group or caucus is in the behalf of white issues unless otherwise SPECIFIED! "

      November 21, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  29. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Thanks C-Lo...However, just from reading other folks comments, I feel I'm able to respond to them most of the time; but thank you anyway! My comments here recently, are usually stemmed or based out of the social, ethical and cultural consciousness of AMERICA, most of the time. I believe with my whole heart that until we get that right...we'll NEVER get anything 'politically' right! And especially if this nation continues to want poor whites and poor Black Americans' to continue to fight and die in her WARS!

    November 21, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  30. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Oh and yes...I'm doing pretty well now! Thank you for asking and your continous show of concern for the changes I've recently gone through, especially since July of this year. It's been rough, as well as shocking but I was raised to KNOW and to never forget that GOD is still in charge..and that HE is still on the THRONE! That's why I continue to support this President. I believe GOD put him there to fix this nation! With no support from DC, he's accomplished quite a bit I think! No reply necessary.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  31. C$CFED

    The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) members invite President Obama to meet with us to address the concerns of African-Americans in the federal government, our nation’s largest employer. As head of the executive branch, C4C is calling for our President to address widespread racism and retaliation against employees who expose civil rights violations in the workplace. The failure to address internal discrimination serves to fertilize the disparities within our society. Federal workplace discrimination and policy makers guilty of discrimination continue to negatively impact the masses within the religious, social and business communities. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqyDPh3OHpk

    November 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • C4CFED

      The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) members seek mandatory discipline for public officials found guilty of discrimination.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm |