Newswire: Black unemployment rate Improves
amid historic jobs report

Black men on unemployment line

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

America – and most notably Black America – is back to work, declared President Joe Biden as he announced one of the most robust job reports in modern times. “History has been made here,” the president declared.
The economy created 467,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate for Black workers fell to 6.9 percent and dropped to 5.8 percent for African American women.
The president highlighted the 6.6 million jobs added to the U.S. economy in the year since he took office.
“It comes alongside the largest drop in the unemployment rate in a single year on record, the largest reduction in childhood poverty ever recorded in a single year, and the strongest economic growth this country has seen in nearly 40 years,” President Biden asserted.
He also acknowledged the struggles that many American families still face, noting that prices have increased sharply during the pandemic. “Average people are getting clobbered by the cost of everything,” President Biden said. “Gas prices at the pump are up. We’re working to bring them down, but they’re up. Food prices are up. We’re working to bring them down as well.”
White House officials said they plan to enact policies to slow inflation.
Before the president’s remarks, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-210 to pass the COMPETES Act, a bill to help America keep up with China in the semiconductor chip industry.
The legislation seeks to tackle such economic issues as supply chain disruptions and a global shortage of semiconductor chips, essential for producing smartphones, medical equipment, and cars.
The bill would introduce several changes to American trade rules to level the playing field for domestic businesses and combat China’s market-distorting trade practices.
“Democrats are prepared to build on this extraordinary economic momentum: continuing our work to lower families’ costs, strengthen our supply chains, and make more goods in America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared.
“Under the leadership of President Biden and House Democrats, our nation will continue to Build Back Better to create more good-paying jobs and lower costs for families across America,” Pelosi stated.

Newswire: Rep. Sewell Calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up and pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020

Headshot of Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent House Concurrent Resolution 107 to rename H.R. 4 the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), who introduced and shepherded H.R. 4 through the House of Representatives last year, praised the decision to rename the legislation for her late colleague, mentor and friend.
“There is no better way to honor Congressman Lewis’ legacy than to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 so that every American – regardless of color – is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box. It is fitting that the House moved today to rename H.R. 4 in John’s name,” Sewell said. “The bill has been languishing in Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard for 234 days. McConnell has taken to the floor to honor John, but the most significant thing he can do is to bring up the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 for a vote. Now is the time for action to honor John’s legacy!”
The Supreme Courts’ 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlined the qualifications needed to determine which states are required by the Justice Department to pre-clear elections changes in states with a history of voter discrimination.
Since the Shelby decision, nearly two-dozen states have implemented restrictive voter ID laws and previously-covered states have closed or consolidated polling places, shortened early voting and imposed other measures that restrict voting.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020 seeks to restore the VRA by developing a process to determine which states must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice. It will also require a nationwide, practice-based pre-clearance of known discriminatory practices, including the creation of at-large districts, inadequate multilingual voting materials, cuts to polling places, changes that reduce the days or hours of in person voting on Sundays during the early voting period and changes to the maintenance of voter registration lists that adds a basis or institutes a new process for removal from the lists, where the jurisdiction includes racial or language minority populations above a certain percent threshold.
Under the legislation, there are three ways to become a covered jurisdiction that is required to pre-clear election changes:
States with a history of 15 or more violations at any level in the previous 25 years; or
States with a history of 10 or more violations, if one violation occurs at the state level in the previous 25 years; or
Political subdivisions or localities with 3 or more violations in that subdivision in the previous 25 years.
The bill is supported by more than 60 national organizations, including the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NALEO Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Native American Rights Fund, League of Women Voters of the United States, AAUW, ACLU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Communications Workers of America, SEIU, UAW, Democracy 21, Democracy Initiative, End Citizens United Action Fund, Sierra Club, and League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.