Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • First Lady Michelle Obama at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference

    First Lady Michelle Obama at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's General Conference June 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo)

    What a pleasure it was to travel to Nashville, Tennessee with the First Lady as she addressed the 49th Quadrennial Session of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church's General Conference.  The AME Church is the nation's oldest African American denomination. Tracing its roots back to the time of slavery in the late 1700s, the minister who started the first AME church did so after his former church demanded African Americans worship in a segregated balcony. Since then the denomination – fueled by the strength, determination, and unflinching faith that sustained that early church – has been an engine for change in communities throughout American history. AME churches have been stops on the Underground Railroad, hosts of civil rights marches, and even, founders of universities.

    The First Lady drew upon this rich history in her remarks to encourage all Americans to get involved in the lives of our families, our neighborhoods, and our country. The lessons and the legacy of the AME Church are part of our story as Americans, and as citizens, we have inherited the responsibility to be active and engaged in our democracy. She also spoke about the quiet heroes whose names we might not know – individuals working behind the scenes, day after day without recognition, helping to make our communities stronger. "Time and again," Mrs. Obama said. "History has shown us that there is nothing more powerful than ordinary citizens coming together for a just cause."

    Seeing and hearing the spirited enthusiasm of the crowd, estimated at 10,000, was uplifting and energizing.  But one particularly special moment took place after the First Lady’s speech when she returned backstage. There, she greeted Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams, a woman she mentioned in her remarks that has worked tirelessly in the AME Church for decades.  Ninety-three years young, Dr. Williams was a bundle of energy and spoke passionately about encouraging young people to stay engaged and keep building on the work that others have started to move our nation forward. Watching the two hug and chat – one, a quiet hero and the other, the First Lady of the United States – was a poignant reminder of the extraordinary change that can happen when people get involved and make their voices heard.

    The First Lady’s remarks can be found here.

  • Confronting High Blood Pressure Through Public-Private Partnerships

    Acacia Bamberg Salatti at AMEC Health Commission Launch

    Acacia Bamberg Salatti addresses a group of faith, community, health, and business leaders at AMEC Manage BP launch.

    Heart disease and stroke are the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States, respecitvely. Responsible for 1 of every 3 deaths in the country, heart disease is an even greater risk in the African American community. Although African American adults are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, they are 10% less likely than their non-Hispanic white counterparts to have their blood pressure under control.

    To help reduce this health disparity, Manage BP with AMEChealth.org is the African American Episcopal Church (AMEC) Health Commission’s groundbreaking hypertension prevention initiative. Designed to leverage technology to reduce hypertension rates and to improve health outcomes, the program utilizes the church’s web-based platform—www.amechealth.org—to deliver health education messages, disseminate health information, collect patient-generated data, and provide peer support.

    The Manage BP with AMEChealth.org campaign will initially involve 10 AME churches in the New York City metropolitan area and will reach more than 20,000 congregants. The launch is just the beginning of a larger program, which will expand to include 4,000 AME churches across the nation.

  • Equipping Small Business with More Tools: Procurement Day at National Small Business Week

    Ed Note: This is a cross-post from the Small Business Administration blog.

    If you were to ask a small business owner to identify a top priority on his or her wish list, undoubtedly they would say “to get more business!” We know that one way to get more business is to contract with the Federal government - the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. In FY10, nearly $100 billion federal contracting dollars went to small businesses. During this year’s National Small Business Week, the Small Business Administration worked to ensure small businesses made the right connections and gained access to federal contracting opportunities.

    Matchmaking Procurement Opportunities

    On May 22nd, during Procurement Day of National Small Business Week, SBA hosted a Business Matchmaking event that allowed small businesses to discuss procurement opportunities with major corporations and federal agencies. The event gave more than 150 small businesses from across the country an opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with major corporations and federal agencies to learn about specific contracting opportunities. 

    SBA’s Procurement Day also featured federal contracting panels on gaining access to federal prime contracting and subcontracting opportunities. During these panels, small businesses learned how to market themselves to the federal government and go after government contracting and sub-contracting opportunities. Small businesses heard from SBA experts about the agency’s contracting programs for small businesses. SBA officials walked small businesses through the federal procurement process as well as small business contracting programs such as the 8(a) Business Development program, HUBZone program, Women-Owned, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Programs. Small businesses heard first-hand how they can gain access to federal contracts to grow and create jobs.

  • By the Numbers: $431,000

    By the Numbers: $431,000

    The gender wage gap puts women at a career-long disadvantage. In 2011, a typical 25-year-old woman working full-time all year earned $5,000 less than a typical 25-year-old man. In just 10 years, her cumulative lost wages will reach $34,000. If that earnings gap is not corrected, by the age of 65 years, she will have lost $431,000 over her working lifetime. 

    This substantial gap is more than a statistic -- it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

    President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Congress puts to a vote on June 5. This comprehensive and common sense bill updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.  

    On a call today, the President talked about the impact of paycheck inequality on American families: “We've got to understand this is more than just about fairness.  Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they're making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by for less money for childcare and tuition and rent, small businesses have fewer customers.  Everybody suffers.  .”

    You can learn more about the Paycheck Fairness Act, and check out some e-cards that explain how income inequality affects American families here.

  • Equal Pay for Equal Work?

    It's 2012, but did you know that women are still paid less than men?

    On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, a wage gap that exists regardless of personal choices like education or occupation. Over the course of her career, a woman with a college degree will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who does the same work.  

    This substantial gap is more than a statistic -- it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

    President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Congress puts to a vote on June 5. This comprehensive and commonsense bill updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.  

    We’ve created some ecards that you can send via email or share on social media with reasons equal pay for equal work is essential. Pick your favorite, or send them all!

  • Prioritizing Low-Income Families and Creating Pathways to Opportunity for All Americans

    Ed. Note: This op-ed first ran in The Grio

    Throughout his distinguished career, Bob Herbert has helped shine a spotlight on the lives of Americans living in poverty – a group that is too often ignored. That was certainly true of his May 21st column, in which he told the story of 20 poor children from the Bronx who are growing up in truly appalling conditions. It was heartbreaking to hear about the children Mr. Herbert met: The girl who told him, “I never feel safe.” The child who said she felt there was no purpose to her existence. The stories they told about too many shootings, and too few jobs.

    Mr. Herbert expressed understandable frustration that our political discourse rarely focuses on the notion that the American dream is closed off to far too many of our citizens. But when Mr. Herbert suggested that President Obama has “given up” on the idea of opportunity and upward mobility, he was simply wrong.

    There’s a basic bargain in America. It says that no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules you should be able to find a good job, feel secure in your community, and support a family. I have worked in the White House since the day President Obama took office. At every juncture-every big decision, every major policy development, every negotiation -- I have seen President Obama fight for the things that help our country preserve that bargain for all Americans, rich or poor.