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President Joe Biden

46th President of the United States of America

The day before the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, I hosted a group of civil rights leaders at the White House, including members of the King family and my dear friend Marc Morial of the National Urban League.

As we spoke about this moment in 2023 and the future of our nation, we reflected on a similar scene from June of 1963. Dr. King and another group of civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy at the White House to discuss the March for Jobs and Freedom and the urgent need for the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act.

These two groundbreaking laws point to our nation’s North Star: the idea that we’re all created equal in the image of God and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. While we’ve never fully lived up to that promise, we’ve never fully walked away from it either because of civil rights leaders and organizations, like the National Urban League. This important report shows how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in our collective efforts to redeem the soul of our nation.

And I am grateful to have an incredible partner in this work: a historic Vice President – Kamala Harris.

Our work starts with preserving American democracy, which is the central cause of my Presidency because democracy recognizes the inherent dignity of us all and gives each of us the power to shape our collective destiny. That’s why we’re building a democracy with dignity rooted in freedom, fairness, opportunity, justice, and truth. 

I promised to protect our freedoms – most importantly, the freedom to vote and have that vote counted, a freedom from which all other freedoms flow. That includes the freedom to make decisions about your own reproductive health care. The freedom to have equal justice under the law, live in a community without gun violence, and a planet without a climate crisis. Together, we are working to protect these fundamental freedoms.

I promised to promote fairness. That means building the economy from the middle out and bottom up, not the top down. It means making the most significant investments in all of America – especially Black Americans – in generations.

That’s why Kamala and I immediately distributed $1,400 checks into pockets and vaccines into arms to get us through the pandemic and economic crisis we inherited. We renewed the Child Tax Credit that delivered monthly checks to families and cut Black child poverty in half.

We made Obamacare even more affordable and accessible. Today, more Black Americans have the peace of mind that comes with health care. I also signed a historic law that took on Big Pharma, reducing the cost of insulin from up to $400 a month to just $35 per month for seniors with diabetes. I’ve made historic investments to combat the maternal health crisis, which disproportionately affects Black women.

From Tulsa to Selma, I’ve talked about our historic efforts to build roads and bridges, deliver high-speed affordable internet, and remove lead pipes in Black communities long overlooked.  

While inflation is lower in America than any other major economy in the world, we’re still working hard to bring prices down and give hardworking Americans some breathing room. More help is on the way.

I also promised to create opportunities for Americans to build wealth. That means investing in education: we’ve poured over $7 billion into HBCUs – the most ever in our history. We’ve canceled over $132 billion in student loans for millions of Americans, and I’ve championed the largest increase to Pell Grants in the last decade.

We made sure Black small businesses were first to receive pandemic relief funding. We’ve increased access to capital and loans to help more Black small businesses start up than we have seen in 25 years. And Black unemployment fell to historic lows. 

We’ve worked to advance equity in the home appraisal process, eliminate discrimination in housing, and make housing more affordable. We’re planning to build millions of new affordable housing units to increase supply and keep rents low.  And we’re working hard, so Black Americans can buy a home and start building generational wealth.

Under my administration, the racial wealth gap has closed the most in twenty years.

I promised to fight for justice. That’s why on day one of my Administration, I signed a historic executive order to advance racial equity across every federal agency. We’ve confirmed more Black women as federal circuit judges than all previous presidents combined, including keeping my commitment to confirm the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I signed the most sweeping executive order on police reform ever for federal law enforcement that bans no-knock warrants and chokeholds and creates a new national database for police misconduct.  And I kept my promise: no one should be in prison for merely using or possessing marijuana.

To pursue environmental justice, I signed an Executive Order directing each agency to identify ways they can reduce the disproportionate and cumulative impacts of pollution on low-income communities and communities of color.  And to keep our communities safe, I signed the most significant gun violence prevention law in nearly 30 years and made historic investments in community violence interventions.

With the National Urban League as a key partner, my Administration is making real the full promise of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But for all the progress, we know there are extreme forces trying to hold us back. We see it from the onslaught of voter suppression and election subversion efforts to denying the freedom to choose; eliminating affirmative action in higher education; attacking diversity, equity, and inclusion programs across American life; and blocking federal programs designed to support small disadvantaged businesses owned by Black Americans and Black farmers.

Above all, extreme forces threaten our democracy itself – storming our capitol on January 6th then lying about what happened that day. They are trying to erase Black history, ban books, and strip away our freedoms. But I will continue to stand up for racial equity because diversity is our nation’s strength.

That’s why I have promised to shine a light on truth. I created the Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fred Gray and Diane Nash, two of our nation’s most important civil rights activists; made Juneteenth a national holiday; and hosted the first Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House because our nation’s long journey from slavery to freedom defines the arc of the American story and the essence of the American promise.

As I’ve said from the pulpits of Ebenezer and Mother Emanuel, we must know the good, the bad, the truth of who we are. That’s why it’s been my honor to shine a light on Black history and Black culture – pillars of American history and American culture – because Black Americans helped make our nation the greatest country in the history of the world.

All the progress we’ve made comes down to a simple proposition: promises made and promises kept. But we’re not done. There’s more work to do, and we will finish the job.

That means passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect the sacred right to vote, making Roe v. Wade the law of the land again to protect women’s right to choose, and beating the NRA, by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to protect our communities.  

It means getting rid of tax cuts for the super wealthy and big corporations, so we can pay for child care, elder care, and so much more.

It means beating Big Pharma again by continuing to lower drug prices and expanding Obamacare, so more Americans have health insurance. We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare – programs so many hardworking Americans depend on.

It means making housing more affordable and accessible and continuing our fight to save the planet with the most aggressive action on climate ever.

We’re building an America where we recognize the inherent dignity of every single person, and where every American has the chance to live a life of purpose and meaning. This is my vision for the future.

That’s what the group of civil rights leaders and I reflected on at the White House on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington: past battles won and future possibilities on the horizon thanks in no small part to Black Americans.

And as this report has done for decades, it shows the State of Black America is still strong – defined by a deep patriotism and a righteous commitment to build a democracy with dignity rooted in freedom, fairness, opportunity, and truth. And as I’ve been throughout my career, I’m grateful to the National Urban League for this essential work to redeem the soul of our nation.

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