By Ibrahim Dabo (@IbDabo)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Barack Obama made an appearance at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. on Sept. 18, 2010 and talked about some of the progress and challenges his administration is facing.
“We are heading in the right direction,” Obama said.
“Our economy was on the brink of collapse so we acted immediately, and the CBC acted immediately. We took steps to stop the financial meltdown and our economic freefall, and now our economy is growing again.”
Obama said it was not just about electing a black president.
“It was about a plan to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation. It was about giving every hardworking American a chance to join a growing middle class. It was about putting the American dream within reach for all Americans, no matter who you are, what you look like or where you come from,” he said.
“This historic recession, the worst since the Great Depression, has taken a devastating toll on all sectors of our economy,” Obama said, adding that the recession has hit Americans from all walks of life.
He said it has been a decade in which progress has stalled and climbing out of this recession would happen gradually.
“We understand it is going to take time,” Obama said. “It is not going to happen overnight.”
Obama said things have improved compared to 18 months ago, and making some decisions was not easy.
He said there was a lot of skepticism over some of his administration’s plans ranging from holding the banks accountable for what they have done to tax payers; or making investments in infrastructure, clean energy and education and being accountable to how that money was spent.
One skepticism Obama cited was on whether his administration could get GM and Chrysler back on their feet.
“Now U.S. auto industries are profitable again, hiring again and back on their feet again,” Obama said.
Obama talked about his administration’s commitment to doing what is right.
“That is why we passed health insurance reform where we will make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing health condition,” Obama said.
Obama said, “‘it’s not the man, it’s the plan,’ and the plan is still unfinished. We need to finish our plan for a stronger economy.”
These plans include strengthening the middle class, providing the best education for students, implementing health care reform, creating jobs, rebuilding roads, railways, runways and schools.
Obama talked about the role his administration played in ending U.S. combat mission in Iraq and welcoming back nearly a 100,000 troops home; while regarding mission in Afghanistan, he said Afghan forces are being trained so that next summer, the transition can begin to Afghan responsibility.
“And in the meantime, we are making sure we take care of our veterans as well as they have taken care of us,” Obama said.
“We don’t just talk about our veterans, make speeches about our veterans – we actually put the money in to make sure we are taking care of our veterans.”
He added that despite managing national security problems, his administration is also helping Haiti rebuild following an unprecedented response from the U.S. government and the U.S. military during the earthquake early this year; while in Sudan, the U.S. is committed to doing its part with all the parties there to ensure lasting peace and accountability in Darfur.
Obama said it has been an important time and there has been a historic legislative session.
“We could have been just keeping things quiet and peaceful around here because change is hard but we decided to do what was hard and necessary to move this country [forward].
“Members of the CBC have helped deliver some of the most significant progress in a generation,” Obama said.
He acknowledged the leadership of the CBC and CBCF for their outstanding work and for playing an instrumental role during this time of economic hardship.
“At this time of great challenge,” Obama said, “one source of inspiration is the story behind the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
Obama gave a reflection of what was happening 40 years ago, when 13 black members of congress decided to come together to form this caucus, and he also spoke about the significance of the organization’s founding.
The president thanked this year’s Phoenix Award honorees Mr. Simeon Booker (The George Thomas “Mickey” Leland Award), Ms. Judith Jamison (CBC Chair’s Award), Mr. Harry Belafonte (The George Thomas “Mickey” Leland Award), and the Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver (CBCF Chair’s Award) for everything they have done for America.
Many dignitaries from government, public and private sectors were present at the dinner. Familiar faces included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
More on the Annual Legislative Conference:
· Congressional Black Caucus Foundation “Continues the Journey” with its 40th Annual Legislative Conference
. EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Actor Chris Tucker takes back “knowledge” from CBC Foundation Annual Legislative Conference
. EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee reflects on the Power of the CBC Foundation Annual Legislative Conference as a Place for Inspiration and Empowerment
. EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: We’ve always been People of Faith, Congressman Donald Payne Tells Ib’s Blog
. EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Congressman Elijah Cummings Comments on the Need to Confront Issues Affecting People of Color
. EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Issue of Health Care Reform is Vitally Important for All, Says Maryland Delegate Nathan-Pulliam
Previous CBCF events covered by Ib’s Blog:
> “We Have Got To Reach Higher Heights,” Congressman Cummings Said At The CBCF “Economic Recovery Forum”
> CBCF’s “Economic Recovery Forum” Lays The Basics On “Preparing To Start Your Business”
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