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Women Play Integral Role in Civil Rights Meeting with President Obama

President Obama meets with African American civil rights leaders to discuss criminal justice reform, income inequality and the Affordable Care Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Washington, DC – Earlier this week President Barack Obama; Attorney General Eric Holder; senior advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett; and director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Munoz; met with Black leaders of civil rights organizations at The White House to discuss jobs, income inequality, voter suppression, criminal justice reform and other issues that impact the Black community. Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, participated in the meeting and issued the following comments about the conversation:

“My first observation when walking in the room was there were four women and three men representing the civil rights community and several women of the Obama Administration. It was a great way to close out Black History Month and gear up for Women’s History Month by engaging a substantive dialogue with President Obama and his Administration on issues that are important to the black community.

“I was honored to join our sister leaders in the meeting including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Lorraine Miller, interim president, NAACP; Patricia Rosier, president, National Bar Association, alongside our colleagues Reverend Al Sharpton, president and founder, National Action Network; Marc Morial, president, National Urban League; and Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.”

“After hearing President Obama’s agenda priorities, the group had the opportunity to present the 21st Century Agenda for Jobs and Freedom, a document created by Black leadership in 2013 detailing their priorities on economic opportunity, voting rights, education, healthcare and other issues.

“I had an opportunity to commend President Obama on behalf of Black Women’s Roundtable, for his strong emphasis on the gender-wage gap in his State of the Union Address and for his statement, ‘when women succeed, America succeeds.’ I urged President Obama to continue to encourage Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, The Family and Medical Leave Act and to also use his executive powers to address the gender-wage gap.

“The racial disparities in the criminal justice system have had an extremely destructive effect on Black and Latino families and communities across the country, so it was encouraging to hear President Obama and Attorney General Holder discuss their commitment to ending inequities in the criminal justice system.

“It was very clear that our 21st Century Agenda aligns with the president’s agenda in several areas that impact the African American community. The meeting was extremely productive and, as sister Lorraine Miller, said, ‘a great moment for the civil rights movement.’”

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