With a reported 15.9 percent unemployment rate hovering above the African American community like a perpetual storm cloud — which is much higher if you count the individuals who have stopped looking — the Congressional Black Caucus has launched a national “For the People” jobs initiative and town hall meetings in major metropolises across the country.
The tour kicked off in the economically battered, rust-belt city of Cleveland, once a thriving steel and manufacturing hub, with the town hall meeting at Cleveland State University co-hosted by Rep. Marcia Fudge and MSNBC contributor Jeff Johnson.
The CBC job tour comes on the eve of its annual legislative conference in Washington in September. And it comes amid lingering criticisms of the black legislative body’s foundation, which was lambasted for spending more money on its annual black-tie gala than on scholarships for students. Several congressmen and women also came under intense fire for purposely steering scholarship money designed to assist underprivileged students attend college, to their own family members and friends instead.
In Cleveland, Johnson said thousands of mostly African American job aspirants showed up as early as 5 a.m. to try to secure one of the hundreds of job openings.
“Recently, the CBC members unanimously introduced the Congressional Black Caucus ‘For the People’ Jobs Initiative Resolution [House Resolution 348] to encourage the House of Representatives to immediately consider and pass critical jobs legislation to address the growing jobs crisis throughout America,” said Emanuel Cleaver II, chairman of the CBC. “We want to get 10,000 people hired. There is no time to waste. The time to act is now, and we are on the move.”
CBC members, especially Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; and Cleaver, D-Mo., have been highly critical of President Obama’s failure to more directly address and provide viable solutions to black unemployment. Cleaver, in particular, gained national notoriety when he denounced Obama’s debt ceiling deal with Republicans as a “Satin sandwich.” They are hoping the jobs tour will help the president and Congress find the gumption to provide redress to this prolonged problem.
Approximately 200 employers registered to participate in the job fairs, and more than 30 members of the CBC will take part in town halls in Detroit (Aug. 16), Atlanta (Aug. 18, 19), Miami (Aug. 22, 23) and Los Angeles (Aug. 30).
The city, date and location of the remaining job fairs and town hall meetings are as follows:
Congressmen John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, Hosts
Wayne County Community College, Downtown Campus
1001 W. Fort St., Detroit, Mich. 48211
Congressman John Lewis, Host
1560 Metropolitan Pkwy SW
Atlanta, Ga. 30310
Aug. 22, 23
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Host
Job Fair – James L. Knight Center, Downtown Miami
400 SE 2nd Avenue # 3, Miami, Fla. 33131-2116
Town Hall – Mount Herman AME Church
17800 Northwest 25th Avenue
Miami Gardens, Fla. 33056-3656
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Host
The Crenshaw Christian Center
7901 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90044