Congressional Black Caucus, Joint Center discuss impact of COVID-19 on black communities

In March, the Joint Center convened leading Black organizations for an online discussion with CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) on COVID-19 policy and Black communities. Participants also took important steps on the future of work, congressional staff diversity, and preventing voter suppression on social media. Details below.

Last Thursday, March 26, the Joint Center convened several leading organizations that serve Black communities for an online policy discussion with CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) on the implications of congressional responses to COVID-19 on Black communities. Organization leaders discussed accomplishments and shortcomings of the stimulus bills, including on housing and food insecurity, modifications to TANF and SNAP, inequalities in education and healthcare stemming from inadequate broadband, fairness in COVID-19 testing and healthcare, protecting imprisoned people, support for Black businesses and non-profits that serve Black communities (including Black churches), voting and census access, preventing governments from waiving affirmative action requirements in government contracting, and more. Participants included representatives from the Advancement Project, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities (ABFE), the African American Mayors Association, the Black Economic Alliance, the Black Futures Lab, Black Voters Matter, the Boule, Color of Change, the Leadership Conference, NAACP, NAACP LDF, National Action Network, the National League of Cities, the National Organization of Black County Officials, the National Urban League, Repairers of the Breach, the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative, Urban Institute, U.S. Black Chambers, and others. More details here.

The Joint Center signed an emergency letter calling for the FCC to support emergency increases in the Lifeline benefit in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lifeline program helps low-income consumers obtain access to telephone and internet services, which is incredibly critical with the emergence of social distancing and remote work.

Moving forward, the Joint Center will host virtual discussions with key policymakers on COVID-19 policy and Black communities. Stay tuned for details on our forthcoming discussion with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks on how the federal government must expand internet access to more Americans to fight COVID-19 (see his New York Times commentary on the topic here).

Many have chimed in on benefits and shortcomings of the federal stimulus legislation, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Leadership Conference, NELP, the NAACP, NAACP LDF, the National Urban League, and the Urban Institute.

The African American Mayors Association has COVID-19 resources for local leaders.

CAP argues that COVID-19 compounds inequality because people of color disproportionately reside in densly populated areas at increased risk to the virus, have higher rates of serious chronic health conditions, and face barriers to health care.

Color of Change will convene a virtual town hall on the Black Response to COVID-19 on April 1.

The NAACP has various COVID-19 resources, including an analysis of equity implications generally and policy briefs on the equity implications on education and voter access specifically.

Third Way will also host a video conference on “The Impact of COVID on the Black Community” on April 1 featuring Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Bronx Assembly Member Michael Blake, and Third Way Senior Fellow Akunna Cook.

The U.S. Black Chambers in conjunction with the Small Business Roundtable produced a policy and legislative resource guide for small business owners.

Several Joint Center supporters have responded to COVID-19, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Comcast NBC Universal, Google, Democracy Fund, Hewlett Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Verizon.

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