Black lawmakers and political leaders in California warned Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts threaten to upend decades of progress in the African-American community on issues ranging from voting rights to education.
“For generations, the federal policies like the Civil Rights Act, the Educational Opportunity Grant and, most recently, the Affordable Care Act have lifted millions of black families out of poverty and...gave those families a chance of the American Dream fully,” said Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, who has introduced a resolution opposing the cuts to services. “We refuse to go back.”
At a Capitol press conference, speakers highlighted how African-Americans would be hit particularly hard by gutting environmental regulators responsible for reducing pollution and improving air quality in inner cities and by eliminating community service block grants that have brought anti-poverty programs to their neighborhoods.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his unwillingness to continue the Justice Department’s role in fighting voter suppression and prosecuting excessive use of force by police departments.
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She compared his “complete disregard for the cornerstones of the Civil Rights Movement” to the post-Reconstruction era of the late 19th century, when the federal government refused to intervene as Southern states rolled back the rights of African-Americans won during the Civil War: “Hatred and discrimination is a weed. It grows best in neglect.”
Ahead of a planned vote in Congress this week to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the discussion focused heavily on how black Americans have benefited from the law, which has nearly halved their uninsured rates.
California NAACP President Alice Huffman said Trump’s campaign pitch to black voters – “What the hell do you have to lose?” – was already proving prescient.
“We’re losing on every ground,” she said. “I think he’s a liar. I think he’s a cheat.”