Obama’s Meeting With Black Leaders: A Little Too Laid-Back …

February 9, 2011  |  

(The Root) — Less than two months after his last sit-down with the National Policy Alliance, on Tuesday President Obama met again with the group of African-American advisers. A coalition of 10 — nine of which represent black public officials, including the National Conference of Black Mayors and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, plus the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies think tank — NPA also met with Cabinet members and senior administration officials.  Countering the perception that the White House steers clear of such organizations, lest the president appear “too black,” NPA additionally holds weekly phone conferences with White House advisers.  So what did they discuss with Obama on Tuesday? According to its members, roughly: “Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’.”  “The president has established priorities, and we’re here to support what he’s doing,” said Mayor Robert Bowser of East Orange, N.J., and head of the National Conference of Black Mayors. He was one of several NPA representatives who participated in a post-meeting media roundtable that mostly applauded Obama’s efforts.  Certainly, the body acknowledged that many African-American communities are struggling, with 15.7 percent unemployment, drastic foreclosures and a crumbling infrastructure. And their overall response was to tout existing dollars from Obama-led initiatives that are designed to address such concerns — things like green-job training, prisoner re-entry programs, and increased funding for community colleges and trade schools. “We found out about a lot of programs today that we didn’t know about,” Bowser said.

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