02-19-2017  3:29 pm      •     

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Upon its 100th anniversary this week, the NAACP under the leadership of Benjamin Todd Jealous, set aside euphoria over the historic inauguration of the first Black president and challenged the Obama administration on where he stands on human and civil rights issues as they pertain to people of color. 
''We're not simply interested in a bail out for Main Street, it's a good goal. It's a good starting point. But, we want a fix for back street,'' says Jealous in a telephone press conference leading up to Feb. 12, the 100th birthday of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. ''At the end of the day, we are not an organization who's here merely to celebrate any milestone too much. On Jan. 20, we celebrated Obama as the nation's first Black president and first president of color. On Jan. 21, we were well aware that he simply became the 44th president of the United States and all pressures that have worked the agenda of the presidents before him came to bear on him." 
He continues, "So, now, we're out there with everybody else trying to make sure that his agenda is our agenda, that his agenda is one of civil rights and inclusion and opportunity for all. And right now there are two things that we're concerned are not getting sufficient attention."
The first issue that he listed was the need for federal enforcement of Black participation in jobs and contracts coming out of the $827 billion economic stimulus act, that has passed the House and is being negotiated in the U. S. Senate this week.
"White unemployment [stats], since they've been calculated since 1940, have never gotten into double digits. Yet somehow this country finds it tolerable and somewhat normal to have Black unemployment in the double digits," Jealous says.
The second issue is the need for law enforcement accountability - federal oversight and enforcement of police profiling and misconduct, which former President Bush promised, but never delivered in 2001.
"We're lifting this up and placing it squarely in front of the administration and we'll be pushing harder now now that we know who the attorney general is," Jealous says, referring to Eric Holder, also Black. "We have a decade of repressed aspirations since 1999 when candidate Bush promised to end racial profiling and driving while Black and it hasn't happened yet. But, we also need to see the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act passed. We also need to see real reforms in police officer use of force and training."
Referring to protests in the wake of the in-the-back police shooting of a restrained unarmed man in an Oakland subway, Jealous said, "We've had a riot in Oakland in the winter. We've had a riot in an American city in the winter because of the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police killing."
Jealous said the NAACP has local affiliates dealing with high profile police killings in at least a half dozen states.
Jealous said he would release specific policy proposals in a "White Paper" on Wednesday this week, the day before the 100th Anniversary celebration of the organization founded in 1909. A White Paper is an authoritative report or guide that outlines problems and suggests ways to solve them from expert perspective.
Jealous said proposals in the White Paper would include:
•               That the Department of Labor beef up staffing in their solicitors office that handle discrimination. Also that they beef up staffing in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs so that as the stimulus dollars flow through, there won't be the same tattered infrastructure left by the Bush administration "and we won't see a repeat of the sloppiness that we saw in Iraq and that we saw in New Orleans."
•               That the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division be rebuilt to enforce a wide spectrum of civil rights laws.
•               That every stimulus-created job that is awarded to a general contractor or to sub-contractors be contracted through the federal employment service so that federal authorities will monitor who gets the jobs. "We need to send a clear message that tax payer dollars should create jobs for everybody. We don't want people discriminated against based on age, gender, race or anything else," Jealous said.
•               Greater oversight for banks, brokers and a major investment in public education "because we're tired of Black people with good credit and assets being fleeced. We want them protected."
The White paper will included the NAACP's Agenda pertaining to the Obama Administration for the first year. He said the Goals of the NAACP for the next 25 years of the 21st century will be released at its its 100th Annual Convention in July in New York.
Issuing the White Paper to the Obama Administration is only one major action taken by the civil rights organization amidst the economic havoc in the Black community. 
The organization is moving ahead with a federal lawsuit to force 15 major financial institutions to cease alleged racial discrimination and rogue sub-prime home mortgage lending.
A federal Judge last month denied a joint motion filed by the institutions to stop the NAACP from moving ahead with the suit. The lenders are now required to release information and documents regarding their mortgage policies and practices, according to an NAACP news release.
The Mortgage lenders named in the lawsuit include: Accredited Home Lenders, Inc.; Ameriquest Mortgage Co.; Bear Sterns Residential Mortgage Corp.; Encore Credit; Chase Bank USA;  Citimortgage; First Franklin Financial Corp.; First Tennessee Bank; First Horizon National Corp.; Fremont Investment & Loan; GMAC Mortgage Group, LLC; GMAC ResCap; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Long Beach Mortgage; Option One Mortgage Corp.; SunTrust Mortgage; and WMC Mortgage, LLC.
Jealous speaks with the confidence of the past 100 years of successes by the NAACP, which led and won campaigns for voting rights, against lynching, Jim Crow, and campaigns to equalize the political playing field.
The NAACP Headquarters, based in Baltimore, has 1,700 units nationwide and will host celebrations and observances throughout the year ending on February 12, 2010.
At the organization's star-studded Image Awards to be broadcasted from Los Angeles on Feb. 12, will be  Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai and Former Vice President Al Gore. Also, Halle Berry, Tyler Perry, Sean Didd Combs, Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, Russell Simmons ad the legendary Stevie Wonder and Muhammad Ali.
"As we set out at this moment, we have a lot to celebrate," Jealous said. "What makes this organization different than virtually every other great organization in this country is that we've practiced one formula for a hundred years with great success and transformed this country again and again, not just for Black people or Brown people, but for all people."

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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