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Russell Simmons to President Obama: Black America Needs to ‘Hear Your Loud Voice’

Hip-hop mogul, entrepreneur, and activist Russell Simmons writes an open letter to President Obama about addressing issues that affect the urban community

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It appears that many prominent African American Civil Rights and business leaders are joining forces to encourage President Obama to speak out against issues that are specifically affecting the black community. Russell Simmons has joined that league of individuals urging the President to discuss mass incarceration, education, and poverty.

In an open letter to President Obama, Simmons expressed that he is “deeply concerned about the future of urban America, specifically the plight of people of color.” He also let the President know that he’s aware that there are underlying factors to why he can’t address issues that specifically affect the black community, and he understands that President Obama has to be the president not “just to black America, but to all America.” Simmons then continued saying, “but they [black America] need to hear your loud voice, as only a President like you can have this critical conversation with our community.”

He then outlined a list of three agenda items that the President should focus on:

1. End the “War on Drugs.” For the past forty years, we have unsuccessfully waged a war against our own people, creating a “baby to prison” pipeline that has annihilated the working population of young black and brown men. Through the use of archaic and unjust laws, we have been able to warehouse millions of prisoners, many of whom were first-time, non-violent offenders. The solution to our drug problem is not imprisoning more people, it is rehabilitation, fair laws and drug courts.
2. Continue the viscous assault on the eradication of poverty. Levels of poverty have hit an all-time high during this recession, however we have solutions that can bring these numbers down. We should continue to innovate programs for the most vulnerable, including job-training (technical skills), fatherhood classes, healthcare prevention, teen-pregnancy prevention, after-school activities (including arts and sports) and more access to healthier foods.
3. Build the best and affordable education system in the world. Your understanding of education as a path out of poverty has resonated with millions of families in this country. Your protection of Pell grants, promotion of community colleges and the “race to the top” initiative have been some of your greatest accomplishments in your first term. The 2020 goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world is attainable and we should keep fighting to reach it.

He also said destitution in the black community has become a “status-quo” and it would be declared a national emergency in White neighborhoods. Simmons concluded by challenging President Obama to seal his legacy by tackling the three agenda items of his constituency that has had unwavering support for him since 2004.

Do you believe a Black Agenda will be pushed from the community this upcoming year?

 


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30 comments

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  3. I agree with Mr. Simmons and Dr. Watkins agenda to address the above issues with President Obama although, I feel the most important issue in our community is being overlooked "black on black" crime. When are we going to address the real issue that is destorying our community "black on black" crime? We are the "new KKK" by killing our own race.

  4. I'm meeting with Russell in a few minutes to talk about his letter. I want to partner with him to address some of these issues with President Obama.

    • The issues in the Black community are local. Shouldn't it be addressed by Mayors and sent to Governors… Then the Governors talk to the President. The President does not step over a Governors authority. They work together

    • The issues in the Black community are local. Shouldn't it be addressed by Mayors and sent to Governors… Then the Governors talk to the President. The President does not step over a Governors authority. They work together

    • Kelvin Sealy – it's both. The gay community went to the president; we should too

    • I know one way Russell Simmons can help poverty in the black community without even talking to the President. Stop marketing that Rush Card with those high interest rates and high fees. That credit card is a rip off. If I needed a credit card I wouldn't even think about getting one of those cards.

    • Boyce Watkins, the gay community is much more united than the Black community. Before going to the President. The Black community should at least present regional goals that have been built from the Cities to States. Help the President help US. If WE are going ask him for anything. WE should bring some Unity to the Table. Give the President something to work with and build on. Do Not just ask the President "What are you going to do for US"… Without saying "This is what WE have Done"… "This is What WE Will Do in the Future" "These are the People and Groups in EACH City that WILL Support YOU when YOU Call"… WE can't do a disappearing act or do a Kanye Shrug.

    • Kelvin Sealy , you are so right. But Black folks are scared to confront these mostly Republican. It we have to began to be serious and deal with them too. Politics is local.

  5. Why does America have an ever increasing number of
    people receiving some form of government handout
    from cell phones, intenet access, food stamps,
    welfare checks, debts paid by goverment (or
    looking to be paid by government such as student
    loans for college) and on and on. Why does
    government spend over $60,000 per person that is
    in poverty (clue, government waste in
    administrating the afoermentioned programs). If the
    government just gave $45,000 to those in poverty
    the problem would disappear. But the real problem
    is deeper. One of the things is personel motivation
    to be responsible for ones self. Lack of this is one of the results of one parent households. Another problem is the “dumbing down” of education
    in America. An ill educated populace is the easiest
    to influence, control, fool, mislead, corrupt, make
    feel entitled and generally get to believe anything
    that is placed in front of them. People ill-
    educated ttend to less able to think critcally or\see the far reaching ramifications of any
    particular line of action.
    Another problem is the lack of education of
    history whether it be American history or world
    history. Those who don’t learn from history are
    doomed to repeat it.
    Respect that is earned should be freely given.
    Respect that is demanded by intimidation is not
    respect at all but merely a reaction induced by
    fear.
    I could go on, would anyone care to comment on
    what I have offered?

  6. Until an official get rid of these racist officials in the Senate, Congress, legal system we will always have problems. Any time you have senators making racist comments about a race of people and nothing is done, and no consequences suffered for their remarks. I wish all officials that are found to be racist could be removed from authority.

  7. Black folks who don’t think that its all about a fight for the allocation of resources, study the white aristocracy and their ” agents” and tell me if they are not DEMANDING something everyday! ! Why not us crazy folks! ! We pay taxes. My mom and dad paid taxes 50 plus years! ! Study the methods of all parties involved and maybe y’all will quit saying we don’t need anything. True we don’t need, we DEMAND, like everyone else does! ! Or give me and mine back the 1800 to 2000 a month in taxes we pay along with my FICA also..THINK NEGROIDS!!! HOTEP

  8. @ Nedrea. … Why did u vote? What do u without choice pay taxes for? Have u ever studied political science? Did u read that the Blackfeet are getting some cash? Is that not catering to a particular segment of the populace? Did u know Israel got their Bunker buster bombs from Obama and Bush wouldn’t give em to them. ? Did u read the executive order on the dream act? Did u know the Council if LaRaza had a conference call with Obama the day after the election? Why? Do u know what lobbyists do?Why do they lobby? What are interest groups? What is their purpose? Do u know what countries get foreign aid? Why do we give them OUR money? Lastly, ever heard of the term influence? Who uses it politically and why? PS was my minor so that’s enough to start u thinking. Think cognitively, not emotionally bout the role of politics and what it is by definition ( the ability to use influence in relation to the allocation of resources) . Maat. .

  9. I hope and pray Michelle will have some pillow talk w/ our President about our issues which are well overdue.

  10. Nedrea SweetPea Scott

    The President has a job to do and it is focusing on EVERYONE in this country, NOT one population of people. So sick of articles like this……

  11. let us as a people do more doing and lest talking.

    • I agree I always say if everyone would find a good cause and donate 10 hrs a week we could do some amazing good. Imagine people volunteering in schools, non-profit mentoring programs, etc. Let's not forget we have a job to do as well, we can't lay it at the feet of our officials and call it done.

    • Nedrea SweetPea Scott

      That's why I am trying to figure out, why people are complaining about the President doing something when people DON'T do anything to help themselves. Crabs in a barrel syndrome and if you dont do what I think you should do, then you have not done anything. This so called black agenda is the weakest excuse of blame everything on one person

    • Nedrea SweetPea Scott

      Imhotep, your line of questioning does not make a lick of sense to me because it is irrelevant to what I am saying. Black people want others to do work for them, but don't want to do anything. We point the finger, and want to shift blame. Our community is messed up because of US, no one else. Sure, racism contributes to it as well, but all we have done is make things worse for ourselves. Mass Incarceration, if blacks especially male species, stops doing stupid stuff and blaming it on as human condition, then maybe they will stop getting locked up. Case on point, several young black males in my neighborhood in Cobb County Georgia come from some of thee most best families ever, they have both parents at home, their parents are educated, well paying positions helping others and teaching their children to be grateful and share with others even to the last bit, disciplined children, wonderful schools, parents spend quality time with their children, well respected people, saved and holy ghost filled people, and even with all of this, the children tried to rob a store next door to me and put the entire neighborhood in uproar, we live in a beautiful mixed place and just that quick, the area is blighted by one crime. Stupidity of black males, so it does not matter what background you come from, you don't have a right to do stupid stuff. Those kids have everything and still do crazy things, so I do NOT feel sorry for the black males that are locked up…..but I guess incarceration is political to you as well……smdh

    • Nedrea SweetPea Scott

      Imhotep, your line of questioning does not make a lick of sense to me because it is irrelevant to what I am saying. Black people want others to do work for them, but don't want to do anything. We point the finger, and want to shift blame. Our community is messed up because of US, no one else. Sure, racism contributes to it as well, but all we have done is make things worse for ourselves. Mass Incarceration, if blacks especially male species, stops doing stupid stuff and blaming it on as human condition, then maybe they will stop getting locked up. Case on point, several young black males in my neighborhood in Cobb County Georgia come from some of thee most best families ever, they have both parents at home, their parents are educated, well paying positions helping others and teaching their children to be grateful and share with others even to the last bit, disciplined children, wonderful schools, parents spend quality time with their children, well respected people, saved and holy ghost filled people, and even with all of this, the children tried to rob a store next door to me and put the entire neighborhood in uproar, we live in a beautiful mixed place and just that quick, the area is blighted by one crime. Stupidity of black males, so it does not matter what background you come from, you don't have a right to do stupid stuff. Those kids have everything and still do crazy things, so I do NOT feel sorry for the black males that are locked up…..but I guess incarceration is political to you as well……smdh

    • Nedrea SweetPea Scott

      Next, I feel it is very DISRESPECTFUL to refer to others as negroids. I am African Irish Native American, and I do not subscribe to the tenants of racism in any fashion so please STOP referring to people as negroids because that demonstrates intellect of ignorance.. .Thank you and good day!!!!

    • Nedrea SweetPea Scott

      Next, I feel it is very DISRESPECTFUL to refer to others as negroids. I am African Irish Native American, and I do not subscribe to the tenants of racism in any fashion so please STOP referring to people as negroids because that demonstrates intellect of ignorance.. .Thank you and good day!!!!

  12. Wow, I love it and love the way he said it. I think Pres. Obama has done an amazing job but I think that the African-American community has the right to ask any president for help when a particular group is suffering in large numbers.

  13. Russell Simmons is a TOTAL HYPOCRITE-he worked against President Obama's original election and has worked against Black causes such as the racial profiling that led to Trayvon Martin's death. When will he be held accountable by Blacks?

  14. Yea finally someone showing some heart. Obama got to help black community or his presidency means Nothing. Symbolism means Nothing. He Need to do something policy wise for blacks. He gon do something for everybody else. He a ok pres. But blacks cant keep kissing his butt. Saying he don't Have to di Nothing at all. If he was a Republican u would demand something. I voted for him for a reason. Please don't waste my vote Obama. Deal with those three issues

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