The White House’s Progress on Civil Rights: Laying Out Some Facts


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, YourBlackWorld.comScholarship in Action 

Below is a direct cut and paste of the White House’s most recent work on Civil Rights.  I obtained the information from this link:  I was inspired to visit the page after receiving an email from Michael Blake, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement (he was on the panel with myself, Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous at the Measuring the Movement forum this year in New York City).  They are working hard to get African Americans enthusiastic about the 2012 elections and Blake is the man on the job.

Without being overly critical or supportive about the information below, I can say that the initiatives that directly impact African Americans seem to be the elimination of the crack/powder disparity (it is now 18-to-1 vs. 100-to-1 before), and the Pigford II lawsuit, affecting black farmers.  The problem, however, is that most African Americans don’t sell crack or own a farm, so most of this legislation missed nearly all of us.

What’s most interesting is that when it comes to the gay community and women, the White House’s work on Civil Rights appears to be farther-reaching and more inclusive.  The Fair Pay Act for women affects all women in the workplace.  There are also a set of initiatives that affect gay/lesbian citizens as it pertains to healthcare, military service and federal benefits.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act attacks the problem of pay discrimination against women, but in a recently survey at Your Black World, we found that nearly 90% of all African Americans have been victims of discrimination in the workplace.  So, one might argue that the vast and impressive work being done by the White House on behalf of the gay community and women might be replicated on behalf of the group (African Americans) that was most likely to vote for the Democrats in 2012.

The problem for the White House in the next election is not whether or not black folks are going to jump ship and vote for the Republicans.  The big question is whether poor and disenfranchised African Americans will cheer for the president from the sidelines and stay home on election day.  The double-edged sword of reminding black folks that Barack Obama is the “president of everyone and not just black America” is that it feeds into a conception that black people are not important enough to be placed on the political priority list.  While this certainly relieves pressure for the White House, it has the secondary effect of leading many African Americans to believe that having a black president has nothing more than a symbolic impact on their day-to-day existence.  So, when the poor single black mother is weighing whether she should go to work or go to the polls on election day, she might just go to work and pray that Obama gets another victory.

The information is below and I encourage you to visit the site for more information.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 







  • The President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the HHS Secretary to ensure that those hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds will give gay and lesbian patients and their families the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve in difficult times, as well as  widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, and others whom otherwise may not have been able to receive visits from good friends and loved ones who are not immediate relatives, or select them to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacitation. 


  • The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.


  • Signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 providing funding and statutory authorities for the settlement agreements reached in the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans; the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers; and four separate water rights suits, brought by Native American tribes.


Filed under African Americans

17 responses to “The White House’s Progress on Civil Rights: Laying Out Some Facts

  1. AntBee

    Please tell us what Dr. Watkins, and Black folk expect the President to do for Black Americans?

    We keep hearing that this President has not kept his promises to Black people, and that he has not done anything for Black people

    What promises did he make to Black people?

    Are Black people NOT a part of the Acts that he has signed?

    Please, If you are African American, please state exactly what Mr. Obama should be doing for Black people, and not the AMERICAN people as a whole?

    Thank you.

  2. I’m not for the gay people, as long as they stay where they belong. There in everyone family. Some of my own family, say don,t let Cookie no, most of the family didn’t no my name Patricia until I got grown.

    I’m not for drugs either, Lord forgive me, But they stupid, and steal everything you got.

    Black women do need to get out to vote for Barack Obama 2012. For we do have that right.

  3. austin

    The president should do all he can to improve the lives of African Americans. Everyone else do all they can to improve the situation of their group.

  4. Raziel Jaffarri Bey

    @AntBee Says: first he can seriously do something to address institutional racism. However, that is an intractable conflict that goes to the core or what America is. All the attacks against the president are an indication that the racist fabric of American is now exposed for all to see. Even white media is starting to say that these attacks (Birthers, Schoolers, now Deathers) are racial more than anything else. Now, having experienced Federal Desegregation of Boston Public Schools and in the first group of African-Americans to enter Air Defense Artillery in 1979, I know what institutional racism is, and it is becoming more prevalent now with these ridiculous attack toward the president.

    I’m not a Black Farmer, Gay, nor a criminal and those groups are not the majority of black folks. This is really like Affirmative Action which did more for White woman than it did for African Americans. Statistics don’t lie and the public record reflect this to be true and not a mere sound bite for effect. However, part of my ancestry is Native American (Algoquin) so that legislation is long over due. Further, if you do not know what promises the president made to African Americans when he ran for office I have 2 things to say. Clearly you was not a part of that process and are probably not African American and just a blogger hiding behind a pseudo name. If so, this in not the forum for baiting. FoxNews is the appropriate place for bait and switch tactics which you question suggest.

  5. D. Tondelayo Watkins

    Aunt Bee:

    I expect President Obama to demonstrate the same empathy towards issues affecting the Black community as he does for the rest of the voters. I am not asking nor do I expect him to give my people any more attention than he does Jewish people, gay people, white people, Hispanic people, etc. I expect him to not be afraid to address the serious issues facing the Black community for fear of alienating his 32% white constituency. President Obama owes a significant debt to African American voters…it’s time he paid that debt!

  6. AntBee

    @Raziel Jaffarri ,

    I am not hiding behind anything, and why do I have to be African American ?

    I am very invloved, more than you will ever know.

    If my asking questions has offended you so much then I don’t know what to say to you. This ia a message/forum type site, where one can leave a reply to whatever was published.

    I will ask again, what promises did the President make to black people?

    Can you answer the question???

  7. Richard Packard

    I believe that Mr. Raziel Jaffari Bey’s statement is a bit “cynical” to say the least, and I also believe that AntBee’s statement/question is a legitimate one, “what promises did the President make to Black people?” Being a political science “practioneer” for the last thirty-nine years, then U.S.Senator Barack Obama “never” promised anything specifically to the African American community. He did promise to serve “not” a “black America, a white America” but a “United States of America”. The problem is that black Americans in critical-mass has not learned to be “politically savvy” enough to understand the political jargon that is spoken by both white and black politicians. The African American community “assumed” (and you know what the first three letters of assume is…) that because Barack Obama was black, that he would address the issues facing the African American community when in fact, it was not the African American community that put him into office exclusively. Again, not being politically savvy enough to realize that it was the “moderate white” voters that put President Obama over-the-top and into office, he “has” to cater to the support. The opportunity here for the African American community is to “create, develop and enhance” a “political infra-structure” in order to “leverage” their political agenda in the mainstream American agenda, and get-off this oftentimes “victim me” mentality and move forward. I can’t in good conscious blame President Obama for his actions (or lack thereof) regarding the African American community’s plight, but it is difficult to see a black man holding the highest political office in the land unable to act and do the “right thing” because of political fallout by those who are “more” politically savvy and organized (liberal/moderate whites) than “our” community.

  8. I like your comment Richard Pachard, right now I’m still getting familar with this blogging.

  9. AntBee

    @D. Tondelayo Watkins.,

    Just what do you think are the serious issues facing black people?

    If black people can’t or won’t address their own issues/problems, what do you expect the President to do?

    What significant debt does he owe to black people?
    What do you think the “pay back” should be?

    Again, I am asking anyone who knows, exactly what promises did the President make to black people?

    Thank you!

  10. I don’t have a issue with blacks or white, cause it appears to me you have a problem with blacks.

    And the president don’t owe no one nothing, He in there doing the best he can for all men.

    And for my self I’m am well taking care of, and don’t want for nothing.
    Thats whats wrong with this world today, people worry about what the other race have or doing. when we need to check our own selves. For when God created heaven and earth, It was created in beautiful colors. As he created each one of us. Until the world get it to there thick heads, There all ways going to be problems.

  11. norman

    Barack Obama has promised “change” and now is the time to demand some serious changes for black and other oppressed people.
    Murdering people like Osama Bin Laden is not going to help anyone except the Oil Companies and International Banks.

  12. AntBee

    @ norman,

    “Murdering people like Osama Bin Laden is not going to help anyone except the Oil Companies and International Banks.”

    You sound like a fool!

    He did what he should have done as commander and chief of this country!

    He did not murder Bin Laden. He made sure that the “murderer” of thousands of United States citizens got what he deserved.

    You people with this sympathy for a man who killed innocent people in the US need to get a grip.

    You are the type that Bin-Laden could easily recruit to bring us down as a country.

  13. Roosevelt Thompson

    I suggest you get the book 100years of LYNCHINGS BY RALPH GINZBERG
    would have been in the nation best interest, a trial would have brought out the facts about who’s lying and who’s telling the truth,and who was
    conspiring against the American people. you must remember Ben ladin
    was our friend not so long ago.we taught him the American way to war.
    we supported him in afghanistan against the Russians.
    so black people is appalled when a unarm person is killed.
    it happens to us all the time.

  14. Mo Biggs

    Gays wanted a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and the right to be married. What does the African American populace want that the President can with the stroke of a pen provide for us? Joblessness impacts all citizens and can not be changed by the President. Equal Opportunity in employment, already on the books. Assistance in getting government contracts, 8A and SDVB programs have been around for a long time. Oh, Civil Rights Act, to late… fair housing, done…. desegregation and an end to slavery are already on the books too.

    So, I am asking, what exactly is President Obama supposed to do specifically to address the needs and concerns of his African American constituents? What is it that we want for him to do for us in particular?

  15. AntBee

    @Mo Biggs ,

    Your points are well taken.

    I have asked the same question and have not had one conclusive answer.

    Sittl waiting to hear what it was that our President promised black people!

  16. Controversy

    I would like to see the President sign the Civil Rights Act into law…that would be something that directly effects Black Americans but more importantly all minorities

  17. Roy Burgess

    Justice for black people should be realized under the Obama administration. Our Justice system denies blacks equal justice. The NCDOJ made things up to deny me justice. At least 3 Whites whom I know personally actually did wrongs and were treated favourable. I did no wrong and was treated unfair. Your forum can help by publishing such inequality where you find it, even if the black is unknown. We as blacks should remember what Martin said,Injustice any where is a threat to Justice every where.” Equal Justice is one area I expected my president and you to make a difference.

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