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Advocates call on Biden to meet with congressional leaders on racial justice initiatives

A host of racial justice organizations is teaming up with Democrats in sending an open letter to President Biden demanding the White House help advance racial equity bills. 

The Hill received an exclusive look at the letter, spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Cori Bush (Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.). 

More than 150 organizations and people are also urging Biden to meet with congressional leaders and advocates to discuss a racial justice agenda ahead of November’s election. 

“For far too long, the scars and trauma of racial inequity have marred the United States. The time for change and action is now,” the letter, sent Monday, reads. 

“In recent months, the U.S. Congress has introduced critical legislation addressing the systemic inequities entrenched in our society,” it continues. “We call upon the White House to lend its considerable power to these causes. We ask for executive actions and executive orders aligning with and supporting these legislative efforts to achieve racial equity and reparative justice.”

The letter lists 10 pieces of legislation for Biden to discuss with legislators, including the John. R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2023, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals and Recommendations for African Americans Act, and a resolution to recognize Banned Books Week.

David Johns, CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, one of the organizations to sign the letter, said the conversation is vital because of the systemic inequalities and discrimination Black Americans have faced for generations. 

“As we confront the enduring legacy of racial discrimination, it is imperative that our political leaders take decisive action to not only acknowledge the historical wrongs inflicted that have systematically subjugated minority communities but also to implement reparative measures that can catalyze transformative change,” Johns said in a statement.

The letter’s signers argue racial equity has been hindered by a host of challenges, including institutional racism, unequal access to education and job opportunities, discriminatory policing and disparities in health care. 

When he was elected four years ago, Biden promised racial justice would be at the forefront of his administration’s agenda. 

More recently, the Biden-Harris campaign launched a series of ads targeting Black voters in battleground states in an attempt to highlight promises the White House has kept to the Black community. 

Dreisen Heath, founder of the Why We Can’t Wait National Reparations Coalition, which also signed on to the letter, said Biden now has a “historic opportunity” to take executive action and advance a racial equity and reparative justice agenda. 

“To date, the United States has never fully or properly reckoned with the gross human rights violation of chattel slavery and the post-Emancipation racist policies that continue to impact Black people and our society at large,” said Heath. “The solutions are right before us, waiting to be put in motion. We do not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road, again. We urge President Biden to support existing legislative efforts and the people’s calls for justice because racial equity and reparative justice demand facing  the fierce urgency of now.”

Updated at 9:13 a.m.

Source: The Hill

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