Conservative Black Group Challenges Liberal Urban League’s “State of Black America 2009” Report

Washington, DC – This year’s edition of the liberal National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report fails to effectively challenge the Obama Administration, is unnecessarily dreary and makes recommendations that would be harmful, say members of the conservative Project 21 black leadership group.

“It is long past time that groups such the National Urban League should be given a pass as they blame poor personal decisions, lack of personal preparation and the realities of life on a phantom bogeyman of conspiratorial dictates designed to impede black progress,” said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie.  “If they are going to point fingers, they should not exclude pointing fingers at themselves.  They cannot claim 100 years of making a difference in the lives of blacks while simultaneously claiming that blacks aren’t succeeding as quickly as every other group of Americans.” 

This year’s National Urban League report, like past reports, dwells on negatives.  National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, for instance, says, “The election of the first black president does not mean we can all now close up shop and go home.”  This echoes Morial’s predecessor, John E. Jacobs, who wrote in the 1993 edition that black Americans were faced with “bleak despair countered by fresh hope” upon the change of presidential administrations.

Among essays by entrepreneur and publisher Earl Graves, Jr. and scandal-plagued U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), the report makes specific recommendations on policies pertaining to education, health care, homeownership and employment, among others.  Some of these recommendations, as categorized in the National Urban League report’s executive summary, are constructively challenged by Project 21 members.

In the area of health care, the National Urban League recommends government-run universal coverage.  As Project 21’s Massie points out, this sort of health care has failed abroad and would fail in America as well.

“Do we need the people who run the DMV in charge of the emergency room?  That’s what you get with government-run health care,” said Massie.  “Creating a new health care bureaucracy would stifle innovation and limit choice.”

“If you want an example of what may happen, look no further than the ‘Urban Health Initiative’ created by now-First Lady Michelle Obama and Obama political guru David Alexrod at the University of Chicago,” noted Massie.  “Their plan seeks to divert residents away for the university’s elite hospital to county hospitals and clinics.  This shocking plan is now being reconsidered after the Chicago Tribune reported that Dontae Adams, a 12-year-old dog bite victim, was given only a shot and some painkillers at the university hospital.  He was told to seek follow-up treatment the next week at a county hospital.  His mother immediately took him to another hospital on a bus for reconstructive facial surgery that same day.”

Massie added: “What happened to Dontae might be a common occurrence for all under government-run health care.  What Americans need are more choices and the ability to make their own decisions when it comes to their medical needs.  That’s what the NUL should be asking for.”

Regarding homeownership, the NUL report suggests funding educational initiatives and credit counseling, something that might find them at odds with some activist groups of which they are usually allied that have opposed such programs in the past as akin to “redlining” because they might target certain areas and populations.

But NUL also supports an expanded Community Reinvestment Act – the regulation that mandates risky mortgage lending situations and is blamed by many as the catalyst for the subprime mortgage crisis.

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli said: “Government aid and intervention should not replace an individual’s responsibility to exercise good judgment.  Achieving the American Dream of homeownership begins with understanding the terms of the contract and meeting those obligations.  Expanding the Community Reinvestment Act risks inflating another housing bubble that would further hinder our country’s economic recovery.  For the National Urban League to encourage more risky loans at this point is reckless.”

On education, the NUL suggests retaining the Bush Administration’s “No Child Left Behind” standards policy, but does not adequately speak out in favor of popular school choice and charter school programs that explicitly spotlight and seek to remedy failing government-run schools by denying them a captive student body.  NUL suggestions still look to government as the best administrator of education despite its poor track record.

“The status quo on education has not worked and it never will work,” said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. “While the National Urban League is focused on what the government can do, they are not speaking out enough about what parents can do.  Education is the civil rights issue of our time, and vouchers, charter schools and similar alternatives to the failed government approach need to be encouraged.”

Overall, Project 21’s Martin noted: “The black community does not need to be protected from capitalism, as the National Urban League’s report seems to imply.  The black community needs to embrace capitalism.  The free market is where true opportunity lies.”

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.  For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.