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CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS CALL ON CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS TO ADDRESS
DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON BLACK AMERICANS
Marc Morial, Melanie Campbell, Derrick Johnson & Rev. Al Sharpton Question Availability of Testing and Care, Disruptions to Education and Employment
NEW YORK (March 16, 2020) – The nation’s leading civil rights organizations have
requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic
Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal.
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell,
President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener
of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and
Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, insisted that
coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account.
“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia,
and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said. “Urban communities of color
are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis
and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”
“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who are out of school and
don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,”
Campbell said, “And comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than
“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely
to have paid sick leave,” Johnson said. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term
layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”
Sharpton noted that urban neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to
quality health care facilities.
“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor
communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any
coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”
The leaders said discussions would include the possibility of making some provisions of
the response plan permanent.