By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are not only talking the talk when it comes to racial equity. The new administration is walking that walk.
In the first of what is expected to become subsequent White House briefings with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), White House Senior Advisor to President Biden and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond detailed what the administration has recently done and what it plans to do in the future to ensure racial justice, accessibility, and equity for Black America.
The on-the-record briefing revealed that the strategic priority of the Biden-Harris Administration is now to push for the immediately enactment of the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan that the Administration has put before the Congress of the United States. Given the disproportionately deadly impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black America, the anticipated passage of the American Rescue Plan will bring much needed relief to African American families, businesses and communities across the nation.
“Let past actions give you an inference on how serious the President is on racial equity,” stated Senior Advisor and Director Richmond, the former Congressional Black Caucus Chair. “On the first day in office, the President signed an executive order holding every department accountable. We are absolutely dead serious about racial equity. He said he would make it a priority through the whole of government, and we will monitor and move the ball.”
More than 100,000 people have viewed the livestreamed briefing, which is available on the Black Press of America’s primary Facebook page at Facebook.com/BlackPressUSA.
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., moderated the discussion.
Those in attendance included NNPA Chair and Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards, NNPA Chair Emeritus and Los Angeles Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell, Sr., members of the NNPA Board, NNPA Foundation, and NNPA Regional Presidents including Atlanta Voice Publisher Janis Ware, Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton, Charlotte, N.C. County News Publisher Fran Farrer, New Journal and Guide Publisher Brenda Andrews, Houston Defender Publisher Sonny “Messiah” Jiles, Texas Metro News Publisher Cheryl Smith, New Tri-State Defender Publisher Calvin Anderson, Data News Weekly Publisher Terry Jones, Los Angeles Wave Publisher Pluria Marshall who is also Chair of the NNPA Fund, Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry, and Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes. The NNPA’s executive administrator Claudette Perry also joined the meeting.
During the White House video conference, an emphasis was also placed on how the Biden-Harris Administration is responding to the issues concerning a national Black Agenda supporting the HR 40 Reparations Bill, DC Statehood, healthcare, economic development opportunities and Black-owned businesses, homeownership, completing a more accurate count of the U.S. Census, public education, and support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“The Black Press of America via the NNPA appreciated the opportunity to hear directly from the Honorable Cedric Richmond, the Senior Advisor to President Biden and the Director of the White Office of Public Engagement,” Dr. Chavis remarked.
“This was another extraordinary day in the 194-year history of the Black Press of America. I am personally grateful that Director Richmond was candid, honest, and authentic in his responses to questions that NNPA member publishers had submitted from across the nation. We look forward to these type of White House briefings. Quite frankly, we are proud of the important position that Cedric Richmond now serves in the inner-circle of the Biden-Harris administration.
Director Richmond promised NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards and to all of the NNPA member publishers who were on the video conference that the White House would seek opportunities to partner with the Black Press as the Biden-Harris administration attempts to get important messaging out to African American and other minority communities.
“I’d like to thank the NNPA for what you do. You tell the unvarnished truth, unedited, and, in many places, you are the most reliable,” Director Richmond stated.
“You reach audiences that others cannot. On the campaign trail, President Biden made himself available to you because it was important. He made investments because it was important.”
“Now that we are in the job of governing, that won’t change. You take COVID-19, for instance. Our dire need is to get everyone vaccinated. There’s skepticism in the Black community, and we know we have work to do to build up trust in the African American community so that they can take the vaccine.”
Director Richmond announced that he and his mother had received a vaccination, and the administration is, in part, counting on the Black Press to help spread the message that getting the vaccine is vital. He also noted the administration’s mission to “root out systemic racism.”
“This is not a new safari for Cedric Richmond,” exclaimed NNPA Chairman Emeritus Danny Bakewell, Sr., in a passionate statement about the responsibility of the federal government departments and agencies to advertise with the Black Press.
Referring to Richmond, Bakewell stated, “He knows the Black Press, he’s engaged with the Black Press and always supported the Black Press. So, we are really in good hands, and he knows the pain the Black Press has consistently suffered over the many years despite our good work.”
Director Richmond responded: “You have a friend, an advocate, and I know the need and role the Black Press plays in communities, especially in this fragile time. We are going to need your help.”