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An instrument of outreach

If we missed it, then our profound apologies. The question remains, How do we talk about Economic Justice for Blacks and not mention the Black Press? In the Economic Justice Agenda for 2024, the CBC calls for inclusive hiring and contracting under the federal infrastructure projects like The Inflation Reduction Act and the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts.

The discussion indicated that the CBC wants to guarantee the hiring of Black workers among the thousands of construction industry jobs that will be available. The significance of this position is based on the historical exclusion of such Black and Hispanic workers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the racial demographics in the construction industry at 60% white, 30% Hispanic, and only 5% Black Americans.

Once again, for some of us, the disconnect is the omission of the Black press as an instrument of outreach which just happens to be required by law in most states. Here is how the dots connect: Federal dollars used to bid construction contracts must be put out in bids to do the desired work. Those bids are required to give notice under the Administrative Procedures Act found under Title 5 of the U.S. Code, sec. 553, 554, 555, for starters. The idea is that federal dollars come from taxpayers and we are entitled to know how they are spent. 

The CBC could help this process and take a step toward achieving its stated goal by encouraging the President to do an Executive Order requiring that all bid contracts for the trillions of dollars under these two acts alone, be advertised in local newspapers of general circulation. 

The following are two specific reasons: One, all of America is not on the internet, so many are excluded from notice of such bids carrying dollars and job opportunities for the very people who are left out; Two, such an Executive Order not only reaches Main Street, but the neighborhoods surrounding Main Street and truly delivers job opportunities which helps the local community papers remain “trusted messengers” at a time of fake news and diminishing newspapers. 

Such an effort, bringing our 2000 plus community newspapers into the process, would also include our 200 plus local Black newspapers and help all our communities.

The Congressional Black Caucus must become a more visible supporter of the Black Press, which has supported and reported on the Caucus since its inception and at times when no one else did. This is not a criticism, but a plan of action that can be implemented with a stroke of the President’s pen, if we ask and pursue.


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