Thursday, May 30, 2024

A new direction for African Americans

December 4, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Many years ago, Abraham Lincoln challenged Americans to maintain a government “of the people by the people and for the people.” Unfortunately, the last Republican -controlled Congress lost sight of this by supporting policies that left African Americans out in the cold. Last year, voters asked for change, and since January, the New Democratic Congress has charted a new direction and accomplished much on behalf of African Americans and their families.

The first increase in the minimum wage in more than a decade became a reality in July and will benefit more than two million hardworking African Americans over the next several years. This pay raise comes at a critical time for African-American families as household income has dropped $2,700 since 2000, and over the last six years, the number of African Americans living below poverty has grown by 1.1 million.

We’ve also enacted the College Cost Reduction Act, the single-largest investment in college assistance since the GI Bill of 1944. This benefits more than 2.2 million African-American college and university students by increasing the Pell Grant by more than $1,000 over the next five years and cutting in half interest rates on subsidized student loans. The new law also provides funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions in science, math, technology, and engineering.

While the Republican do-nothing Congress neglected Gulf Coast communities ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we’ve sent $6.4 billion worth of relief to the region; provided $1.35 billion in Community Disaster loan forgiveness; expanded financing for homeowners in hurricane ravaged areas; and allocated $60 million to pay teachers to operate schools.

We’ve also honored our troops and veterans, particularly the 262,000 brave African-American men and women who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. The New Direction Congress recognizes their sacrifice and has honored them with increases in health care, education, and disability assistance.

Also, the House passed the Farm bill, vital legislation that improves food and nutrition programs for children and seniors, creates legislation benefiting thousands of minority-owned farms across the United States, and increases funding for agricultural and food sciences facilities at 1890 land-grant colleges like Tuskegee University, Fort Valley State University and North Carolina A&T – just to name a few.

Despite all accomplishments, much remains to be done. We are fighting to extend health coverage to 10 million low-income children and make our communities safer. Accomplishing this means crossing party lines and cultural differences to pass measures that will make a real difference in people’s lives. As members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we will strive to find common ground where we can. Where we cannot, we will stand our ground. And we will continue to advance a New Direction for a stronger and more secure America for all African Americans and their families.

Written By U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop

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