African American Leaders Meet with President Bush to Discuss Critical Issues Facing the Nation

A group of nine African American leaders met with President George W. Bush at the White House on December 7th to discuss a wide range of critical issues facing the African American communities in the Gulf Region and across the Country. The meeting was an outgrowth of a private White House meeting between Bruce S. Gordon, President & CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the President in September. At the September meeting, Gordon encouraged the President to continue their discussion and to expand participation to a larger group of African American leaders.

In addition to Gordon, the meeting included Donna Brazile, Founder and Managing Director, Brazile & Associates, Inc.; Dr. Dorothy Height, President, National Council of Negro Women; Debra Lee, President and CEO, Black Entertainment Television; Marc Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League; Ted Shaw, Director-Counsel and President, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention; H. Patrick Swygert, President, Howard University and Rep. Melvin L. Watt (D-NC), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. The President was joined by several members of his staff including, Andrew H. Card, Jr., White House Chief of staff; Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff; and Claude Allen, Chief Domestic Advisor.

"It was an open and candid exchange of ideas." said Gordon. "My colleagues and I are encouraged by the possibilities. We discussed real problems and workable solutions. There was a sense of urgency in the air. We have the potential to produce meaningful and measurable results."

The meeting agenda included the Congressional Black Caucus' Bill, HR 4197, the Hurricane Katrina Recovery, Reclamation, Restoration, Reconstruction and Reunion Act of 2005. The bill is designed to provide for the recovery of the Gulf Coast region and for the reunion of families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The Supplemental Appropriations Bill was also a topic of conversation. The group focused on housing, employment, job training and the use of minority suppliers.

In addition, they identified the immediate need for supporting the Historically Black Colleges and Universities damaged by the hurricane. The discussion went beyond Hurricane Katrina to include reauthorization and restoration of the Voting Rights Act and judicial nominations.

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