Obama Speaks to Black America

The president targets issues that affect African-American communities. 

Posted: 02/22/2013 10:15 AM EST

The state of Black America was a hot topic of conversation on Feb. 21 for President Obama in a meeting with African-American leaders and a series of Black radio interviews.

According to a readout of his meeting with the leaders issued by the White House, the president pledged to support policies that will impact the hardest hit communities, such as increased access to job training programs and encouraging companies to invest in low-income neighborhoods. Other topics included expanding universal pre-K to create a path of achievement for every child and the automatic budget cuts, or sequester, scheduled to take effect next week.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments for and against a key section of the Voting Rights Act, the group also talked about "implementing common-sense improvements to the voting process" so that every eligible American has the opportunity to vote.

Participants included NAACP president Ben Jealous; Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation; Ralph Everett, who heads the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies; and the heads of the National Council of Negro Women, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Advancement Project and the 19th Street Baptist Church.

In a radio interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, who also attended the White House meeting, the president remarked that these are "both the best of times and the worst of times" for many African-Americans.

"I think if you work hard and you have opportunity, and you're able to take advantage of it, the sky is the limit for African-Americans in our country in a way that just wasn't true a generation ago," Obama said. "On the other hand, the lingering effects of the great recession means there are whole lot of communities and whole lot people who are still out of work, still struggling and that’s why some of initiatives I talked about at the State of the Union are so important."

The president also did interviews on the Yolanda Adams Morning Show and the Black Eagle, hosted by Joe Madison.

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(Photo: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo)

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