Top 5 Things You Need to Know - August 12, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016




August is Congressional Recess

The United States Congress is in recess during the month of August.  This means that members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are working in their respective districts. The Washington Bureau urges affiliate CEOs and Young Professionals to use this time to meet with Members of Congress about issues of concern.  Should you need tips or help on how to schedule meetings with your elected officials, please contact the Washington Bureau.


Baltimore Police Department Violated Civil Rights

This week, after a lengthy investigation into the policing practices of Baltimore Police Department, the U.S. Justice Department issued their official findings which concluded that Baltimore police officers routinely violate the civil rights of residents, make unconstitutional stops, make unwarranted searches and arrests, use excessive force, and retaliate against residents.  The report also finds that African American residents overwhelmingly bear the brunt of these violations.  Please take time to review the Justice Department’s report.  Be sure to also learn the National Urban League’s 10-Point Justice Plan, as we continue to fight for criminal justice and police reform.


Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

The Institute for Policy Studies and the Corporation for Economic Development issued a new study on the racial wealth-gap this week. The study found that if current economic trends continue, the average black household will need 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as their white counterparts hold today.  For the average Latino family, it will take 84 years.  The study suggests that without significant policy intervention or a significant change in the American economy, African Americans and Latinos will never close the wealth gap.  These findings are facts the National Urban League knows well as the nation’s only civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment.  To see the full report and learn the impact this continued disparity will have on Black and Brown communities, visit here.


Restore the Voting Rights Act

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a string of court victories where federal courts have beat back attempts by states which sought to suppress voter rights in the coming election.  Decision after decision rendered by the courts dismantled voting laws that sprung up immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key enforcement provision (Section 5) of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in its 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder decision. However, these cases also dramatize that the full force of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 must be restored to prevent the need for long, costly court battles in the first place.

Despite these recent victories we’ve seen in North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas and Rhode Island, we at the Washington Bureau urge every citizen to call upon their members of Congress to immediately enact the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a comprehensive bill that has been languishing in Congress without so much as a hearing! The bill would restore the key enforcement (or preclearance) provision that was gutted by the Supreme Court and modernize the VRA for the challenges of today.  To urge your elected officials to take action on the Voting Rights Advancement Act, visit here.


HUD and Comcast Expands 'Internet Essentials' Program

Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Comcast announced the expansion of a significant, national effort to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans.  Now, all public housing and HUD-assisted residents who live in Comcast’s service area will be eligible for Internet Essentials, a low-cost, high-speed Internet service program for low-income families. This expansion will not only facilitate home broadband access for African Americans and other underserved urban residents, but will also allow them to be competitive in securing financial and educational empowerment.  The National Urban League applauds this effort by HUD and Comcast.  To learn more about the Internet Essentials program, click here.