Civil rights leaders calling on Congress to address impact of coronavirus on Black Americans
AmNews Staff Reports | 3/17/2020, 11:37 a.m.
The nation’s leading civil rights organizations have requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal.
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, insisted that coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account.
“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said. “Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”
“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who are out of school and don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,” Campbell said, “And comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than ever."
“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely to have paid sick leave,” Johnson said. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”
Sharpton noted that urban neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to quality health care facilities.
“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”
The leaders said discussions would include the possibility of making some provisions of the response plan permanent.