(ThyBlackMan.com) “Those who profess to favor freedom yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Fredrick Douglass
Today, our country is facing three once-in-a-generation crises simultaneously: a pandemic the likes of which we haven’t experienced in over one hundred years, Great Depression-era levels of unemployment and wide-spread civil unrest we haven’t seen since the 1960s. And from its very first day in office, when it lied about the crowd size at the inauguration, the current administration has failed to give the American people the truth.
Truth is, what we are now facing is beyond even systemic racism, the struggle of today is the struggle between right and wrong. We know that communities of color in urban centers have been disproportionately affected by each of the three crisis facing our country. But we also know that these areas disproportionately add to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of our country.
Therefore, there can be no full recovery from the challenges we face without an agenda for the recovery of our major metropolitan areas. It is in that vein that we offer The Urban Agenda for the recovery of all Americans for 2020 and beyond:
- Healthcare – A healthcare plan must address more than how we pay for insurance coverage, it must also address access to facilities and clinicians who can diagnose, treat and case manage chronic health conditions before they become acute.
- Housing – Many essential workers cannot afford to live in the neighborhoods where they work. We must increase the supply of affordable housing in all sections of our major cities, not just where low-income people already reside.
- Education – The “virtual classroom” has become the only way to continue instruction during the pandemic. Going forward, in addition to upgrading curricula and physical facilities, we must provide internet connectivity for all learners.
- Employment – People from communities of color are over-represented in low-wage jobs. Small minority and women-owned businesses are often unable to access capital to continue and expand operations. We must improve employment and business opportunities for these communities.
- Criminal Justice Reform – Police violence is only one manifestation of inequities in the criminal justice system: mass incarceration, cash bail, and voting rights are examples of many other issues that must be addressed to provide for a fairer and more just society.
The brothers who have signed on to The Urban Agenda are a group of men who live in the major metropolitan areas across the Mid-Atlantic States. We are former and current CEOs, entrepreneurs, government officials and founders of charter schools. We raise our voices in areas where we have experience and expertise to ensure that our communities’ needs are part of the country’s recovery.
Over the summer, we will be releasing position papers on the issues outlined and we invite you to share The Urban Agenda with your social networks. And, if you have knowledge in areas we are not covering, to get together with your colleagues to put forward your agenda for positive change regarding those issues. If our country is going to be pulled out of the steep decline we are experiencing, it’s going to take all of us giving our time, talent, energy and money to ensure a change of course in November.
Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of Virginia captured the importance of this time when it was being announced that the statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond was coming down. He said 2019 was the closing chapter of the first 400 years, let’s make 2020 the beginning of the next 400.
Staff Writer; Harry Sewell