The Congressional Black Caucus wrapped up its month-long “For the People” jobs initiative in Los Angeles Wednesday. The CBC estimates that approximately 20,000 people attended the job fairs, town halls and workshops. As in Miami, Cleveland, Detroit and Atlanta, thousands of people lined up during pre-dawn hours outside the Crenshaw Christian Center for what in comparison was a handful of jobs. The Los Angeles event featured more than 140 employers from a range of industries, such as Disneyland and the Los Angeles Fire Department.
In an interview on MSNBC earlier this week, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) said that the CBC thinks about 10,000 people would end up with new jobs as a result of the effort, which the group plans to follow up on. In addition, many people received much-needed advice about how to enhance their job searches and improve their interviewing skills to increase the probability of success in finding work.
“We've had a van out with computers, to teach people how to go on the Internet. People are finding out what employers are looking for. Some are wanting to go back to school and develop certain kinds of skills or improve themselves,” Waters said. “So we're pretty pleased that these job fairs are not only going to get some jobs, but they're also going to introduce people into some new ways of looking for jobs.”
The CBC jobs initiative has also experienced its fair share of controversies, stoked in large part because of the thousands of human examples they’ve seen of the toll the economic downturn has taken on Black communities, African-American lawmakers untied their tongues and publically lashed out at both the Obama White House and their Republican colleagues. The president, they argue, has not shown enough inclination to target Black unemployment. In addition, members like California Rep. Laura Richardson have publically wondered why Obama hasn’t visited any cities with large numbers of African-Americans.
“What I’m feeling is the desperation and suffering of people,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) told CNN. “And the hope they have that their government will bail them out like it bailed out Wall Street.”
Lee also said that when Obama unveils his jobs plan before a rare joint session of Congress next week, she wants to hear something bold.
“I don’t want to hear just a million jobs. If there are 14 million people unemployed, we want to see a targeted approach to everyone who is unemployed,” she said. “We don’t just want to hear something that is politically palatable to the Republican Tea Party.”
In a sign that Obama may be starting to take CBC grumblings to heart, the White House announced Thursday that the president and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will celebrate Labor Day in Detroit, Michigan.
(Photo: AP Photo/Reed Saxon)