I have to admit I was a bit perplexed when I was a panelist recently at Tavis Smiley's "We Count: The Black Agenda is the American Agenda" forum in Chicago, which focused heavily on what President Barack Obama has not done for the black community, rather than the significant down payment he has made in our communities this past year. (The program airs on C-SPAN 2 Monday.)
With unemployment and the foreclosure crisis hitting black communities especially hard, I can understand the frustration. But I was surprised that the billions of dollars in meaningful investments the president has already made were such a small part of the discussion.
When Tavis and I worked together on the best-selling Covenant with Black America book in 2006, we envisioned it as precisely the kind of "black agenda" that Tavis brought the panel together to discuss. The Covenant—which we described as a "national plan of action to address the primary concerns of African Americans today, from health to housing, from crime to criminal justice, from education to economic parity"—seems like a fair standard to hold President Obama up to.
From where I sit—with more than three decades of experience working to make public policies more fair and inclusive of all people—the past year has seen tremendous investment in the African-American community right along the lines we laid out four years ago.
Angela Glover Blackwell is founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity.