By Gerald Stansbury
The June 28 announcement of support by the Maryland State Conference and several local branches of the NAACP in support of Northeast Maglev’s first phase of its high-speed Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMaglev) train centered on four words — jobs and business opportunities.
Economic sustainability is one of the pillars of the NAACP’s “Six Game Changers for the 21st Century.” As part of this effort, the NAACP strongly advocates to ensure underrepresented populations have equal access to workforce skills development, living wage-paying jobs with benefits, MWDBE contracts, and more.
The 3.7 percent June 2019 US unemployment rate may be positive news for the general population, but the current 6 percent rate for Black Americans means unemployment for this group still remains the highest in comparison to other groups. The NAACP consistently works to reverse this painfully persistent trend.
In Maryland, we build relationships that help secure better economic conditions. We must also seek out opportunities for our young adults out of high school but not in college, our college graduates, our downsized breadwinners, our returning citizens, and our minority-owned firms.
Our decision to support this first phase between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD came after several discussions with Northeast Maglev and review of documents produced by government agencies. Fundamentally, the NAACP saw an early partnership with Northeast Maglev as vital to helping provide a pathway to diverse careers that could continue for a generation as this train extends northward.
In addition to bringing economic benefits like 74,000 construction-related and 1,500 permanent jobs, Northeast Maglev will deploy its service on a route that will be considered the least impactful among several other options. For example, it will safely build deep tunnels for 75 percent of the route so there will be no need to acquire houses. The NAACP will stay involved with the developer and will work with other stakeholders to address issues whenever they appear.
As the SCMaglev project will bring accessible economic opportunities and additional advantages, we needed to capture this moment. We knew that if we supported the project’s launch in Maryland, we will have placed ourselves in the right place at the right time to help many minorities looking for work and business. For these reasons, the NAACP is extremely pleased to partner with Northeast Maglev.
Gerald Stansbury is president of the Maryland State Conference NAACP.