With the Supreme Court soon expected to render historic verdicts on such issues as the Voting Rights Act and if colleges should consider race in their admission policies, the lone African-American democratic senator seems convinced there is no longer a need for a so-called “black agenda.”
Massachusetts Sen. William “Mo” Cowan assured a largely minority contingent of reporters “the same issues black Americans are concerned about are the same as those causing white Americans concerns.” Cowan also hinted he strongly doubts if President Barack Obama could pass any such legislation through Congress even if he tried.
"I think he has to stick with the agenda and what he thinks is going to move the country forward," Cowan, recently appointed to temporarily fill the seat vacated by John Kerry after he became secretary of state, told The Associated Press.
Since his election in 2008 as the first black man in the White House, Obama has been hounded by questions peppered with overtures about how well his administration has addressed the needs of the black community. They point to an unemployment rate for blacks that stands nearly double that of the national average, a still deteriorating public school system, and the perilous nature of many inner city neighborhoods such as his hometown of Chicago where gangs and violence have spiraled out of out of control in record-setting proportions.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Democratic Steering Outreach Committee, Cowan and other supporters of the president spoke candidly about what they view as the slippery slope he must navigate.
"It would not be dead on arrival in the Senate; it would be dead on arrival in the House," Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow said of any so-themed legislation. Cowan then took great pains to reference all other legislation the president has enacted that he feels has paid huge dividends for his constituents and most all other minorities.
“I think once we come to grips with our budgetary situation and dealing with those realities, getting out of this sequester nonsense, it will go a long way to improve not just the loves of black Americans, but all Americans,” Cowan said of the president’s Affordable Care Act signature legislation.
While others were more than willing to acknowledge some of the president’s good deeds, they were still adamant that more needs to be done. By any name necessary, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich said there needs to be a renewed focus on entrepreneurship, education, and unemployment in the black community.
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons added, “in my view a black agenda is needed because there is a very real experience of ongoing discrimination going on in this country."