Leaders from the National Pan-Hellenic Council along with others from the Black human rights community are using the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death to reinforce his dream. The leaders said they truly want to see equality for all Americans.

“At a time when the needs of the Black community, the needs of poor people, and the needs of children are increasing,” Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, said, “we’re cutting the very people who need help the most.”

The group is upset with Congress for budget proposals that cut major programs that would aid many minorities in achieving that Dr. King’s dream. They believe a line has been crossed on Capitol Hill and it’ll have negative effects on people of color.

“Under the current leadership in America it appears that we are bragging about the largest cuts in domestic annual spending in this nation’s history,” said Kappa Alpha Psi Grand Polemarch Dwayne M. Murray. “We fail to mention that their cuts will cut job training for the unemployed at a time when more than 13 million Americans are out of work.”

Cynthia Butler-McIntyre, president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, agreed with Murray, saying that these budget cuts are being made on the backs of America’s lower-class, especially single mothers and their children. “ has decided to balance the budget by going after non-security discretionary spending, proposing to drastically cut or completely eliminate social safety net programs that help Americans most in need,” Butler-McIntyre said, vowing that her Black leaders will not take such changes sitting down. “When they target programs like Head Start, which provides educational and health services to low-income children and their families, we are going to rock the boat.”

The group is not only asking that the cuts not be made, but it is also calling House Republicans out on their plan. Morial says that the claims Republicans are making that the cuts will create more jobs isn’t truthful. “If went through they would cost the nation between 500,000 and 700,000 jobs,” Morial said. “Make no mistake about it: Those that argue that cutting these programs will create jobs have not one scintilla of evidence, not one report, and not one economist that has stood behind them on that point.”

In fact, Morial claims that the very programs Congressional leaders want to cut are not the programs that have thrown the nation into this deficit. He says the unending expenditures on two wars have brought the nation to the point of near bankruptcy. “Two unpaid-for wars have led to a doubling, in a 10-year period, of the budget of the Department of Defense,” he said.

The group is calling on Congress to fund programs that will protect education, jobs and job training programs. They say these things are what people of color, particularly African Americans, need to live the American dream.

“We are here this morning to say, unequivocally, that our national priorities are in the wrong place,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We are here to call on legislators to put their money where their mouths are. The future of this nation depends on investments we make now, particularly in our young people.”

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO