By Yussuf J. Simmonds, Sentinel Managing Editor, Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel –
(NNPA) According to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)--known as the 'Conscience of the Congress'--over 40 job bills have been brought to the House floor by its members since the beginning of the 112th (the current session) Congress. To that end, they have been holding town halls and job fairs around the country to ease the devastating crush of human misery that the high unemployment has taken in their districts and beyond, as a part of the jobs initiative thrust. To date, this initiative has included town halls and jobs fairs in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami. Each stop has featured at least 100 employers with real and available jobs, and thousands of eager jobs seekers.
CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver was scheduled to join his colleagues Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Laura Richardson, and Karen Bass in Los Angeles later this week, the final stop of the national jobs initiative effort. They have demonstrated national leadership in their efforts at championing jobs for the Black community. Congresswoman Waters will host the event, which will include more than a dozen members of the CBC, for the Final Stop of the CBC's "For the People" Jobs Initiative.
According to CBC Chairman Cleaver, the genesis of the jobs initiative tour was the devastating impact that the high unemployment was having in members’ districts. He explained, "The Congressional Black Caucus, of which I am the chair began to look at what we can do in terms of reducing the depression level unemployment among African Americans. We came to the conclusion that it was pointless to just complain and growl the government's lack of attention to this segment of the American population that is unable to find work. So we decided that we would select five cities where unemployment was high, get major corporation to commit to hiring a large number of those individuals who came out and we would travel around the country with this job fair," Cleaver said.
As a result, Los Angeles was one of the targeted cities and they are scheduled to be here to discuss the high unemployment rate in the African American community, jobs legislation and how to stimulate the economy in urban communities. "The Congressional Black Caucus cannot tolerate this crisis," said Waters, "that is why we are taking the unusual step of getting out of Washington and connecting our constituents directly with real jobs. With the national unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, California's rate at 12.1 percent, and the rate in the African American Community at 16 percent, the CBC has made job creation our number one priority. This initiative will extend beyond these events."
Cleaver continued, "The whole caucus was going to participate with these districts. But instead we chose Cleveland as our first site--which was two weeks ago--we had 7,000 people to turn out for about 2,200 jobs from 200 major corporations: from General Electric to Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Next we were in Detroit on this past Monday with about four thousand people who came out for about 1,500 jobs. And then yesterday, we were in Atlanta where about 5,000 people turned out for a couple of thousand jobs," he concluded.
Bass said, "It's most important leaving Washington and coming to L.A. and hearing from people who are hurting, and taking their stories back to Washington and demanding that we have the resources to take the jobs back to these communities."
Over the last week, Rep. Waters, who chairs the jobs initiative, has made national headlines as a result of her sharp criticism of the handling of the unemployment crisis by both the administration and the tea party led Republican House majority. These events promise to provide an open forum to continue this dialogue. Waters has been outspoken on the topic of the unemployment crisis facing African-Americans. She also chided Obama for ignoring the Black community during his recent bus tour through Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. At a job fair in Detroit, she said, "We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any Black community. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is," she continued. "We're supportive of the president, but we getting tired, y'all, getting tired."
Echoing her sentiments, Rep. Elijah Cummings said that African-Americans are "totally frustrated, and people need to know that the president feels their pain. Almost every African-American person I spoke to said he (the President) needs to fight, and fight harder," Cummings said, responding to the high unemployment rates in the Black community."
And that pain is real for as Cleaver described an incident at one of the job fairs, "To show how desperate these individuals are for work, 12 individuals standing in line for hours to get inside where they would meet a potential employer, fainted and had to go to the hospital."
He said that the next stop would be in Miami where they were expecting "double digits, ten thousand or more. And the last two days of this month (August) we would be in Los Angeles."
It was due to Cleaver's leadership that members of the CBC unanimously co-sponsored and introduced the Congressional Black Caucus 'For the People' Jobs Initiative Resolution (H. Res. 348) to encourage the House of Representatives to immediately consider and pass critical jobs legislation to address the growing jobs crisis in America.
About his leadership, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher of the Sentinel commented, "Emanuel Cleaver has a clear vision of his leadership role as chairman of CBC; he is the right man, in the right job, at the right time, delivering the economic resources for our community that it deserves."
Other CBC members scheduled to participate in the Los Angeles town hall and job fair are: Reps. G. K. Butterfield, Andre Carson, Yvette Clarke, Lacy Clay, Jr., Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Barbara Lee, Cedric Richmond, and Frederica Wilson.
The Los Angeles stop on Tuesday, August 30th will to be held at the Crenshaw Christian Center and a huge jobs fair to be held at the same location the following day. This event has already confirmed more than 100 employers.