Juneteenth Celebration Must Be Marked with Impactful Change

Contact: Shin Inouye, [email protected], 202.869.0398

WASHINGTON – As the nation marks the first anniversary of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with 30 organizations, called on President Biden to advance economic justice policies that will benefit Black communities and continue to build upon his administration’s efforts to confront discrimination and racial disparities.

The legacy of slavery and the failure to address harms stemming from it have resulted in vast racial disparities between White and Black people in virtually every sector of life — including the ability to accumulate wealth; access health care, education, housing, and employment opportunities; receive fair treatment in the criminal-legal system; and much more. To address these issues, the groups urged President Biden to use his executive authority to make the case to Congress to close the Medicaid coverage gap and permanently expand the child tax credit, administratively cancel student loan debt at an amount meaningful to Black Americans who disproportionately carry devastating amounts of debt, and create a commission to study reparations proposals for African Americans that will consider the economic discrimination against African Americans that is an ongoing legacy of slavery.

“We ask that you build upon the historic recognition of Juneteenth and seize this opportunity to support meaningful economic gains in the lives of Black people and Black families. Your administration can make meaningful progress toward repairing this intergenerational harm and closing the wealth gap through Medicaid expansion, child tax credit permanency, and student loan debt cancellation. These policies are particularly important now, as Black communities continue to work to rebuild after disproportionate death and economic loss during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the groups wrote to President Biden. “Your continued leadership on these issues will solidify those financial impacts and build more economic opportunity for Black people in the United States.”

“[T]he need for economic justice policies on Medicaid expansion, CTC permanency, and student loan debt cancellation demonstrate the rippling effects of slavery and institutional racism that stifle the advancement of Black people today,” the groups also said. “Reparations represent the unfulfilled promise of the American Dream and the 40 acres and a mule that the United States initially promised to freed slaves. A commission to study reparations proposals is a response to the institutional racism endured by Black people, as well as a solution based on federal and state-level precedent. We urge the administration to establish a commission to acknowledge how pervasive the impact of slavery is on almost every institution and structure in the United States today, especially those with economic implications.”

The full letter can be read here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.