by Yvette Carnell
In attendance were Rev. Al Sharpton; Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director, National Council of Negro Women; Ben Jealous, president, NAACP; Judith Browne Dianis, co-director, Advancement Project; Melanie Campbell, president, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation; Rev Derrick Harkins, 19th Street Baptist Church; Ralph Everett, president, Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies; Wade Henderson, president, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director, National Black Justice Coalition.
In a statement released after the meeting, Al Sharpton said, “I and other leaders had a very significant discussion with the President about concerns in the African-American community and the civil rights community in general and most specifically about voting rights.”
He then concluded: “On unemployment, which is also disproportionately impacting our communities, we must deal with job creation and job programs, educational inequality, the problems of unfairness in the criminal justice system, and the problem of gun violence.”
What Sharpton didn’t say, and this is key, is what he asked for during the meeting, and what, if anything, Obama committed to during said meeting. Sharpton said that Obama engaged in a “spirited” discussion and was “listening intently”, but what does that mean?
I just want to highlight that we’re now pretty well into President Obama’s second term and so-called ‘black leaders’ are still happy to chop it up at the White House, happy to enter the room with presumably the most powerful man in the world, with only hat in hand.
Did anyone in that room demand that Obama support a 1:1 ratio to replace the 18:1 ratio in the crack to powder cocaine sentencing disparity? Did anyone bother to ask why no one on Wall Street has ever been charged with a crime, meanwhile Jesse Jackson Jr. has been prosecuted by Obama ‘s Justice Department? Did Sharpton bother to ask Obama why he’s been so stingy with pardons? Doubtful, because it really only matters that Obama pays attention to black people, not what Obama says, does, or commits to.
Anyway, I hope there were photo-ops after the meeting. It really is all about the Instagram isn’t it?