State of Black America Authors and Essays

Each edition of the State of Black America contains thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis from leading figures and thought leaders in politics, the corporate arena, NGOs, academia and popular culture. Learn more about the dynamic authors who contributed essays spanning from education and entrepreneurship to media and social justice. 


Resisting the Rollback: CBC Congressional Priorities in the Trump Era

Rep. Cedric Richmond
United States Congress
2nd Congressional District, Louisiana

Over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald J. Trump posed one question to the African-American community time and time again: “What do you have to lose?” In fact, African Americans have a lot to lose under a Trump administration, as demonstrated by his personnel decisions, budget blueprint, and stated policy agenda. From appointing an attorney general with a hostile record on issues of justice, equality, and civil rights, to proposing massive cuts to programs of critical importance to the most vulnerable in our communities, this president has made it clear that he intends to roll back the progress we have made in recent years, particularly under the leadership Barack Obama, our nation’s first Black president.

But we are not going back.

Road Map: Disparities » Progress » Equity

Rep. Robin Kelly
United States Congress
2nd Congressional District, Illinois

When we talk about healthcare, especially healthcare in the Black community, one word consistently comes up: disparity.   Disparities in communities of color remain deep and persistent; they span from the cradle to the grave. We know that real health inequalities continue to plague our neighborhoods and that African Americans are sicker, have less access and die younger than their white counterparts.  With this grim status quo in mind, we never focus on what we’ve achieved.

As we drive toward the goal of an equitable health future for communities of color, we cannot afford to take our foot off the gas.  The Affordable Care Act put us on the right road and we are seeing progress.

We Refuse to Turn Back the Clock: Advancing Criminal Justice Reform in the Face of Retreat

Senator Cory A. Booker
United States Senate
New Jersey

In our most hallowed spaces as a nation—atop the Supreme Court itself—we declare that we are a nation that values “equal justice under law.” In our national creed, we pledge that our nation stands for “liberty and justice for all.” Each generation of Americans—however imperfectly—has committed themselves to making these words truer for the next generation.

Breaking it Down: Why Building Walls Won’t Work

Rep. Karen Bass
United States Congress
37th Congressional District, California

From the day Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, he made xenophobia and racism a central feature of his campaign. He described Latino immigrants as rapists and criminals—and at different points during his campaign—he spoke of deporting 11 million people and building a wall across the entire southern border of the United States. Trump repeatedly described African-American communities as lawless, plagued by criminal gangs, and in some areas, more dangerous than Baghdad. A familiar narrative began to emerge. His attack on Latino immigrants mirrored his attack on the African-American community and extended to his ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Voting Rights: Old Battles Become New Again

Rep. Terri A. Sewell
United States Congress
7th Congressional District, Alabama

After more than 250 years of debate, five constitutional amendments, decades of protest, and a handful of monumental Supreme Court decisions, the basic right of American citizens to vote in our elections is still not a settled matter.

While minority voters no longer face literacy tests or have to guess how many marbles are in a jar when they register to vote, there are new strategies for disenfranchising Black and brown communities.

What #SheWillBe: Supporting Young Women and Girls of Color

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
Speaker, New York City Council
Council member, 8th District, New York

Two years ago, the New York City Council took on the challenge of leveling the playing field and launched the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI). It was a first-of-its-kind effort to focus budget, policy and legislative initiatives on supporting young women and girls, especially those of color. The goal was to produce a lasting blueprint for investing in their future. We achieved that, and more, and I am proud to celebrate and share our model so that other jurisdictions can implement their own YWI initiatives.   

Bad for Your Health: The Link Between Unemployment and Well-Being

By Gwendolyn Grant
President & Chief Executive Officer
Urban League of Greater Kansas City

The most common pathway to building economic capacity is steady employment. Unfortunately, on average, Black unemployment is two to three times higher than white unemployment in most urban areas. Historical and contemporary experiences with racism, discrimination, and systematic exclusion from America’s social and economic institutions have had an adverse effect on the physical and mental health of African Americans.

Fighting for Equal Rights and Protecting our Progress

By Sadiqa Reynolds, Esq.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Louisville Urban League

The work of the Louisville Urban League remains relevant—and urgent.  We sit at the heart of trouble and provide critical life support. We have overcome, but we’ve reached no mountaintop. Despite our nation’s hard-fought-for progress, we do not live in a post-racial society, and every program or policy pushed by the Louisville Urban League is grounded in this reality.

Homebuyers Beware: What You Don’t Know Can Shut the Door on the American Dream

By Judson W. Robinson III
President & Chief Executive Officer
Houston Area Urban League

The Houston Area Urban League sees homeownership as an essential wealth creation tool for African Americans and other communities of color. Generally speaking, homeownership is an important milestone for all American families. Often seen as a rite of passage, it is a critical first step for anyone attempting to claim a foothold in the American Dream and further anchor themselves in their neighborhoods and communities.