Black Civil Rights and Faith Leaders Pen Letter to Congress for Immediate State and Local Aid

Lee Saunders, Black Civil Rights and Faith Leaders Pen Letter to Congress for Immediate State and Local Aid

Lee Saunders, AFSCME president

As COVID-19 disproportionately ravages African-American communities, civil rights and faith organizations representing tens of millions of Americans warn of a ‘devastating’ impact on the African-American community if Congress fails to provide aid to struggling state and local governments and front-line public service workers.

 WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the National Action Network, civil rights leaders, and faith leaders — representing a combined 30,000 congregations of more than 25 million people — sent a joint letter to Congress calling for swift passage of state and local aid in the next stimulus bill.

The public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has exacted a disproportionately brutal toll on African-American communities.

The emergency has further exposed long-standing systemic racial and economic injustices, including a lack of access to health care, which has contributed to higher rates of underlying conditions in the African-American community.   

The letter states, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, African-Americans constitute 20 percent of all U.S. coronavirus deaths, although we are only 12 percent of the U.S. population … The economic harm that communities of color will suffer, if the federal government fails to act, will also be devastating.”

Every day that Congress delays on a state and local aid package, communities across America face a growing danger of cuts to vital public services that we need to fight the pandemic and safely reopen the economy.

As tax bases crumble, cash-strapped states and localities are laying off the very front-line public service workers who put their lives at risk every day to protect our communities. The health care workers, corrections officers, sanitation workers, and school custodians who maintain our schools and keep them disinfected are all essential to fighting this pandemic and reopening our economy. We can do neither if we lay them off.

“A pink slip is no way to thank our everyday heroes – but that is exactly what will happen unless Congress moves quickly to invest enough aid to fix the problem,” the leaders say in the letter. “We urge Congress to remember that, for decades, the public sector has been one of the nation’s most dependable employers of African-Americans, lifting generations of black families into the middle class.”

Bipartisan and public support for a state and local aid package is growing. It’s time for bipartisan action to put working people first — not just corporations and big businesses.

“We are troubled by the reluctance of some elected leaders in Washington to step up for America’s communities in the same way they have for big banks and corporations. During this unprecedented moment of challenge and crisis, Main Street clearly needs the same consideration as Wall Street. And we are appalled by the impact this callous disregard for public services will have on people of color,” expressed leaders in the letter.

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE.

 

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