As Prepared For Delivery:
Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to start by thanking Reverend Al Sharpton, the Chairman and Board of the National Action Network, the NAN chapters, and the Washington Bureau for inviting me here today. Rev. Al, you remain a tireless leader and steadfast partner in our ongoing fight for equality and justice. Thank you for all you continue to do.
It’s great to be here with so many of my colleagues from the Biden-Harris Administration. We’re only halfway through the first day and you must be sick of all of us by now! They are key partners in our collective work of serving the American people.
I joined this Administration in this role for a simple reason—to deliver on President Biden’s vision: To ensure that the promise of America is real—not just for some, but for us all.
When I am fortunate to travel around our great country, I like to ask folks what they think about the Biden Administration—our vision, our accomplishments, and the work we have left to do.
At times, I meet people who say: What has the Biden-Harris Administration actually done for Black Americans?
When I ask them how they’d answer that question, some people just mention the Juneteenth holiday.
You can imagine what that does for my blood pressure.
So, today, I’d like to answer that key question directly and comprehensively. You have heard a lot from my colleagues, and I’m going to pull it all together.
We’re in the middle of plenty critical, ongoing fights—to further reduce inflation, to restore reproductive rights, to keep deadly weapons off our streets, to protect voting rights, and to defend our very democracy. We cannot rest until these battles are won.
But, while we fight on, we must be crystal clear about what has already been accomplished.
And, we must be clear about President Biden’s unwavering and proven commitment to the Black community. On the campaign trail, he said, “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Joe Biden has delivered. And, today, I’m bringing the receipts.
Let’s start with our progress on the economy.
Over twelve million jobs created.
The lowest Black unemployment rate in recorded history: 5%.
Hundreds of thousands more jobs for Black Americans than pre-pandemic.
In our first year, poverty rates for Black children were cut in half, to a record low: 8.1%.
The most equitable economic recovery in memory.
And, a comprehensive effort to close the racial wealth gap.
For instance, we’re tackling bias in the home appraisal process, which has limited Black homeowners’ returns on our investments. We’re making data about appraisal bias available to the public and broadening the pipeline of diverse home appraisers.
We’re increasing the supply of affordable housing, strengthening tenant protections, and keeping people in their homes.
We administered nearly five million emergency rental payments to Black families by the end of 2022. Each one of those payments, along with the eviction moratorium, helped keep a Black family in their home.
The Department of the Treasury helped nearly 94,000 Black homeowners avoid foreclosure through the end of 2022.
Yesterday marked the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently proposed rules promoting fair housing choice, eliminating housing disparities, and ensuring that entities receiving federal funds provide equitable access to affordable housing.
At the same time, by 2025, we will have increased by 50% the number of federal contracts that go to small disadvantaged businesses. This is projected to translate into an additional $100 billion going to minority-owned businesses.
More broadly, we’re ensuring that the once-in-a-generation resources provided by the historic pieces of legislation President Biden signed are delivered equitably, including to those that have long been left behind.
That’s how we’re helping reconnect communities of color that had been cut off by old infrastructure. Like an interstate project in Atlanta, a greenway in St. Louis, and the I-375 Detroit Community Reconnection Project.
We’re replacing 100% of America’s lead pipes and service lines—because no one deserves what happened in Flint.
We’re bringing high-speed, affordable internet to every community in the U.S. and already saving more than 16 million homes $30 per month.
We’re relieving debt obligations for tens of thousands of farmers who have experienced economic struggles, including many farmers that belong to historically disadvantaged groups.
We’re expanding workforce development opportunities, already spurring more than 350 commitments from private sector employers, unions, community colleges, and others to create equitable infrastructure jobs.
We’ve made permanent and elevated the Minority Business Development Agency, which can now serve more than 9 million minority-owned businesses.
Foundational to all of these actions, and many more, are the President’s two executive orders on advancing racial justice and equity. Equity is now the business of the entire federal government.
And, contrary to what critics say, equity is not a zero-sum game. If it’s good for me, it must be bad for you. No. In the last 20 years, the U.S. had a GDP shortfall of $16 trillion due to discrimination against Black Americans. If we closed our racial gaps, we would add $5 trillion to GDP over the next five years. That’s not my math. That’s according to Citi Bank. We all benefit when every community has the chance to thrive.
Let me turn to health care.
When the pandemic was raging, the Biden Administration got vaccines in arms. Two years ago, 48% of Black adults had received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine, compared to 59% of White adults. Today, we’ve closed that gap. 85% of Black adults have completed a two-dose primary series, compared with 84% of white adults.
Before President Biden took office, almost 4 million Black Americans had no health insurance.
So, we increased outreach about the Affordable Care Act. We lowered or eliminated premiums, enabling more than three-quarters of uninsured Black Americans to find a plan for less than $50 a month and save an average of $800 a year.
As a result, 400,000 more Black Americans have enrolled in ACA coverage—a nearly 50% increase.
On top of that, we’re reducing drug costs—capping the maximum amount that seniors on Medicare have to pay for prescription drugs at $2,000 a year. No matter how costly their cancer or other drugs may be.
Medicare is now finally able to negotiate the price of high-cost prescription drugs. And, drug manufacturers must now pay rebates when they increase prices faster than inflation.
Critically, we capped the amount that seniors on Medicare pay for insulin at $35 per month. Then, the top three insulin manufacturers responded to President Biden’s call and lowered the price for everybody, not just seniors. This is vital for the Black community, given our high rates of diabetes.
In parallel, President Biden set the ambitious goal to end hunger in this country and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030.
To get there, we are implementing a comprehensive national strategy. We’ve made permanent and nationwide the program that helps families purchase food during the summertime, ensuring year-round meals for up to 7 million Black students. 
And, we are calling on Congress to expand nutrition and obesity counseling in Medicaid and Medicare, and to end the federal prohibition on providing SNAP benefits for formerly incarcerated individuals.
We are also tackling the outrageously high rate of Black maternal mortality.
Like many, this is personal for me. My mother was bedridden for her last trimester when she was pregnant with me. Sadly, my twin brother was stillborn. My mother said that her obstetrician always dismissed her concerns. She was convinced he missed something along the way.
Over five decades later, this is still all too common for Black women.
That’s why we’re working to give Black mothers and their children the care we deserve.
We’re extending Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months in 35 states and D.C.
We’ve created a new “Birthing Friendly” designation for hospitals, so folks know where to find good maternal care.
We’re increasing mental health supports for pregnant and postpartum women while building a more diverse pipeline of health care workers.
But, as we all know, our country is heading in the wrong direction on reproductive health.
On Friday, a judge in Texas banned mifespristone, approved by the FDA and used safely and effectively by women for decades.
We’ll continue to fight for abortion rights. And we will not rest until we have a Congress that protects women’s fundamental rights.
Additionally, we’re taking head on the nation’s mental health crisis.
Suicide rates among Black youth, ages 10 to 24, jumped by 37 percent from 2018 to 2021, an increase higher than any other racial group. Black children aged 5 to 12 now die by suicide at twice the rate of their white counterparts. And, compared with white Americans, half as many Black Americans who need mental health care get treatment.
That’s why we’ve made it easier for those experiencing a mental health crisis to get help, by dialing or texting 988, the national suicide and crisis lifeline.
At the same time, we’re building a health system that can treat everyone, by expanding culturally competent, trauma-informed services delivered by diverse providers in schools, in jails and prisons, and in our communities.
To help students build back from the pandemic, we made the largest one-time investment in public education—enabling schools to hire more tutors and expand summer programs and supportive services. Schools now have 36% more social workers and 28% more nurses.
We’ve also doubled down on early care and education. This includes the second-largest ever increase in child care funds and nearly $1 billion more for both Head Start and Title I grants, which help students in high-poverty school districts.
President Biden has delivered unprecedented support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including nearly $6 billion since 2021.
An estimated 450,000 HBCU students received emergency financial aid grants.
Forty-five public and private HBCUs have gotten $1.6 billion in institutional debt relief.
Nine HBCUs that tragically experienced bomb threats received grants to help strengthen mental health services and invest in campus security.
We recently announced the first-ever awards for teacher preparation programs at HBCUs.
And, in February, the Department of Defense awarded grants to HBCUs to conduct high tech research, from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity.
When it comes to college affordability, I am deeply proud that my mother, Lois Rice, was known as “the Mother of the Pell Grant.” She helped create the Pell Grant program, which has enabled more than 80 million Americans to attend college.
70% of Black undergraduates rely on Pell grants, and I am also proud that Joe Biden has already increased the maximum Pell grant by $900.
At the same time, the Department of Education is proposing an income-driven repayment plan, which would cut monthly payments for undergraduate loans in half.
And, as you know, last year, President Biden announced his plan to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to more than 40 million student loan borrowers. Nearly 90% of those relief dollars would go to borrowers earning less than $75,000 per year. We’re fighting for this relief before the Supreme Court, even as Republicans in Congress are trying to kill it.
Let me turn to another critical area: criminal justice.
Violent crime is a problem that affects us all, and none more than the Black community.
We’re taking a comprehensive approach to crime and criminal justice reform.
That starts with crime prevention. President Biden’s Safer America Plan and his budget make major investments in housing, jobs, youth programs, treatment, training, education, and support for returning citizens.
We’re directing unprecedented resources to community violence intervention programs, which can reduce violence by as much as 60%.
But, our streets remain awash in guns. That’s why President Biden has taken more executive action to curb gun violence than any president at this point in his tenure: reining in ghost guns, holding rogue gun dealers and traffickers accountable, and steering the passage of the first significant gun safety law in 30 years.
Last month, President Biden signed a landmark executive order to move us as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation.
But we all know that Congress must step up and finally ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. End gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. And, require background checks for all gun sales.
No one knows better than our community that public safety requires public trust. That doesn’t mean defund the police. But, it does mean supporting effective, accountable community-oriented policing.
It means prohibiting chokeholds, restricting no-knock entries, reforming use-of-force policies, prohibiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies, creating accountability databases, and more.
That is exactly what President Biden’s Executive Order on policing mandated for all federal law enforcement agencies. But, to make those practices standard across the country, we still need Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Meanwhile, President Biden continues to make second chances real, through pardons and clemency.
Last October, he granted a full pardon for all federal and District of Columbia simple possession of marijuana offenses.
This benefits thousands of Americans whose convictions are barriers to housing, employment, education, and more.
And to ensure that our judiciary reflects America, President Biden has nominated more Black female judges to federal courts than any President in history, more Black female appellate judges than all his predecessors combined, and of course, he made history with the appointment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Yet, as we all know, our democracy is under threat.
We saw that on January 6th.
We saw it last week in Tennessee.
We’re continuing to fight to safeguard our rights at the ballot box and safeguard the electoral process.
President Biden’s executive order on voting rights directed federal agencies to expand voter registration, make it easier for federal employees to cast their ballot, and more.
Last year, the President signed the Electoral Count Act into law to ensure that voters, not a sitting Vice President or Congress, decide our presidential elections.
The Department of Justice has doubled the number of attorneys dedicated to enforcing voting rights laws and pressed cases to stop racially discriminatory voting rules and unfair redistricting in states like Georgia and Texas.
And President Biden has called on Congress to end the filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation, because there is no substitute for Congress passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act to fully secure every American’s sacred right in every state.
United Against Hate
Strengthening our democracy also requires that we unite against hate and division.
After the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, Rev. Al, alongside leaders from the Latino, Asian and Jewish communities, came to us to recommend a White House summit to demonstrate national unity against hate-fueled violence.
So, in September, we brought all elements of American society together at our United We Stand Summit.
White, Black, Asian, Latino, and Native American. Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh. Rural and urban, Democrat and Republican, disabled, LGBTQI+ and straight.
We all stood together to affirm that we’re stronger when we unite against hatred than when we stand alone.
Let’s continue to lock arms against all forms of hate—from antisemitism to Islamophobia, from attacks on Trans youth and LGBTQI+ people to racism and misogyny. Let’s join together to build a society where we all count. We all can be secure, living in dignity and with hope.
Finally, let us stand together in defense of facts, truth and history.
Today, in states across the nation, we’re seeing bans on innocuous children’s books, just because they have prominent Black or brown characters.
We’re seeing Black history erased from our classrooms and textbooks.
Make no mistake—they are trying to tell us we do not count, we do not matter, and perhaps we should not exist.
Black History is American history. Truth is truth.
We must fight to protect our history and that of others.
It’s all American history. And, its teaching is central to the preservation of our democracy.
As President Biden has said, “We have to learn everything: the good, the bad, the truth, and who we are as a nation. That’s what great nations do. … And we’re a great nation.”
Those are the receipts. I brought them here today because we should be proud of our shared accomplishments. From the economy to health care. From education to criminal justice to shoring up our democracy.
We all know there is much more to be done. But while we focus on the way forward, let’s not lose sight of the distance we have travelled in just over two short years.
Let’s not neglect to reflect on our progress. Let us not fail to share the word of what we have done together. Let’s find strength in what has been done and purpose in what we know must still be done, as we recharge and refresh for the battles to come.
Thank you for all for that you have given and continue to give in service and sacrifice to this nation we love. Thank you for your partnership and for your commitment to ensuring that the promise of America is real for us all.
 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7206a4.htm and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/sites/default/files/documents/health/topics/suicide-prevention/african_american_youth_suicide-report_to_congress.pdf.