Blog Posts Related to the African American Community

  • DHS Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

    This blog post can also be read on the DHS website HERE.

    Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a historic event that bought more than participants from across the country to Washington, DC to march for social and economic equality. On this day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech, a speech that would inspire profound change in American history.

    This monumental event set the stage for the passage of groundbreaking civil rights legislation, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many more civil rights protections followed in critical areas such as education, employment, housing, and disability rights, to name a few.

    A number of these civil rights protections are embedded in the work we conduct here at DHS. The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), ensures that safeguards of individual rights and liberties are in place for everything the Department does, because we know that a safe and secure homeland means also ensuring that civil rights and liberties remain protected.

    Each and every day:

    • Our Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity strives to ensure that all employees and applicants for employment at DHS enjoy equal opportunity and employment decisions free from unlawful discrimination.
    • Our Antidiscrimination Group engages in policy work to ensure fair and equitable treatment of individuals and guards against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age in DHS programs and activities.
    • Our Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Impact Assessments evaluate DHS policies to determine if they impact the rights and liberties of those affected by a given initiative.
    • Our Community Engagement Section works with diverse communities throughout the country whose civil rights and civil liberties may be affected by our policies and actions, informing them of avenues of redress.
    • Our Compliance Division investigates and resolves complaints filed by the public alleging abuses of civil rights or civil liberties, including racial, ethnic, or religious profiling.

    We continue to support the Department’s mission to protect the nation while preserving individual liberty, fairness, and equality under the law, inspired by those men and women who marched on Washington 50 years ago who forever changed the landscape of civil rights in our country.

    Read more about the work CRCL does to protect civil rights and civil liberties here.

  • Our Favorite Moments of the President with Icons of African American History and the Civil Rights Movement

    Since taking office, President Obama has welcomed many icons of the civil rights movement to the White House, including Tuskegee Airmen, Freedom Riders, Negro League Baseball players, artists, musicians and activists. Today, with President Obama set to speak from the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we present some of our favorite behind the scenes moments of the President with these icons of African American history and the civil rights movement.  

    Be sure to tune in at 2:45 ET today to watch the President's remarks live at whitehouse.gov/live

    Ruby Bridges visits her portrait in the White House
    Ruby Bridges visited the White House to see how a painting commemorating her personal and historic milestone looks hanging on the wall outside of the Oval Office.

    Watch on YouTube

    Tuskegee Airmen visit the White House
    The President and the First Lady host Tuskegee Airmen along with cast and crew members of the movie Red Tails for a screening at the White House.

    Watch on YouTube

  • Our 'Fierce Urgency of Now'

    Ed. note: This is part of a series of blog posts written by Administration officials in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Read more here.

    When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington, he described a “fierce urgency of now.” He reminded a divided nation that we need one another, and that we are stronger when we march forward, together. “We cannot walk alone,” he said. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.” 

    A half century later, Dr. King’s words have renewed meaning.

    For every little boy or girl in America whose health lies in the balance, there is an urgency of now.

    For every one of our neighbors who lives day-after-day in fear because they do not have insurance, there is an urgency of now.

    For every mom or dad who has faced bankruptcy because of a mounting medical bill, there is an urgency of now.

    Without the opportunity to live a healthy life, there is no opportunity to live the American dream or participate fully in our communities. Without the freedom which comes from having access to quality health care, there is no freedom to reach our full potential in the workforce or watch our kids or grandkids grow up. Without the security of health insurance, there is no economic security for middle-class families, and so many other families working their way into the middle class. 

    The time for division and debate has passed. Now is the time to march forward. 

  • President Obama, President Clinton and President Carter to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday August 28th

    This Wednesday will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial; a moment which served to punctuate a movement that changed America. 

    To honor this occasion, President Obama will be joined Wednesday, August 28th, by President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, members of the King family and other civil rights leaders and luminaries at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate Dr. King’s soaring speech and the 1963 March on Washington.  

    As we mark this important anniversary, we reflect on what the Civil Rights Movement has meant for the country, and perhaps most importantly, the hard work that lies ahead as we continue to pursue the ideals laid out by Dr. King, and sought by the hundreds of thousands of Americans who marched through our nation’s capital fifty years ago. 

    This event is open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 AM, for an 11:00 AM program start on Wednesday, August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial. Guests arriving after 12:00 PM are not guaranteed admittance.  In order to access the venue, you must enter from the east side of the Reflecting Pool, on 17th street, near the World War II Memorial.

  • 50 Years Later, Our March Goes On

    Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Action to Realize the Dream March

    Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Action to Realize the Dream March, August 24, 2013. (Justice Department photo by Lonnie Tague)

    Ed. note: This is part of a series of blog posts written by Administration officials in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Read more here.

    It was an honor to speak at the National Action to Realize the Dream March this morning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

    Fifty years ago, Dr. King shared his dream with the world and described his vision for a society that offered, and delivered, the promise of equal justice under the law. He assured his fellow citizens that this goal was within reach - so long as they kept faith with one another, and maintained the courage and commitment to work toward it.

    And he urged them to do just that. By calling for no more - and no less - than equal justice. By standing up for the civil rights to which everyone is entitled. And by speaking out - in the face of hatred and violence, in defiance of those who sought to turn them back with fire hoses, bullets, and bombs - for the dignity of a promise kept; the honor of a right redeemed; and the pursuit of a sacred truth that’s been woven through our history since this country’s earliest days: that all are created equal.

    Those who marched on Washington in 1963 had taken a long and difficult road - from Montgomery, to Greensboro, to Birmingham; through Selma and Tuscaloosa. They marched - in spite of animosity, oppression, and brutality - because they believed in the greatness of what this nation could become and despaired of the founding promises not kept. Their focus, at that time, was the sacred and sadly unmet commitments of the American system as it applied to African Americans.

  • African Leaders Meet to Discuss Immigration Reform

    Today, the White House is meeting with a group of African leaders to discuss the benefits of commonsense immigration reform for African immigrant communities. The meeting coincides with this weekend’s festivities marking the anniversary of Dr. King’s historic March on Washington. 50 years later, his words still resonate with those fighting for more equitable, just treatment of immigrant families. This forum presents an opportunity to celebrate African immigrant communities and their contributions to this country while reaffirming a shared commitment to fixing our broken immigration system. Together, we acknowledge that there is still more work to be done in defense of the American Dream.

    African leaders represent a vital part of the growing coalition in favor of immigration reform. Their support is crucial to the Administration’s efforts to improve the system and better meet the needs of immigrants from African countries, one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the United States, with more than 1 million obtaining U.S. permanent residence since 2000. These immigrants use multiple pathways to enter the United States. From parents reuniting with children, to refugees fleeing persecution, to immigrant entrepreneurs creating jobs, these individuals make rich contributions to our Nation’s growth. That is why African immigrant communities would benefit from commonsense immigration reforms that would reunite families, strengthen protections under the refugee and asylum programs, legalize those who are living in the shadows, and increase avenues for employment for African graduate students and entrepreneurs.

    To highlight the many other ways in which modernizing our immigration laws would positively impact the African immigrant community, I am pleased to announce that the White House is releasing a fact sheet on the benefits of immigration reform for African immigrants and refugees.

    The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June that creates an earned path to citizenship, continues to strengthen border security, holds employers accountable, and streamlines the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers. The Congressional Budget Office and other entities have found that providing earned citizenship for undocumented immigrant workers would increase their wages and, over 10 years, boost U.S. GDP by $1.4 trillion, increase total income for all Americans by $791 billion, generate $184 billion in additional state and federal tax revenue from currently undocumented immigrants, and add about 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy. The White House has also released a series of reports that make the economic case for immigration reform.

    Now is the time for the House to act so immigrants from Africa and many other countries that make up this great nation can continue to contribute to our society and economy.