Civil rights leaders urge Congress to consider Black workers impacted by Coronavirus

Rev. Al Sharpton fears the access to quality health care facilities will negatively impact Black people and other communities of color

Black leaders
Rev. Al Sharpton, Melanie L. Campbell and Marc Morial (Credit: Getty Images and Melanie L. Campbell)

Black civil rights leaders are requesting an emergency meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ensure there is equity in the nation’s coronavirus response and that it takes into account the dire needs of Black workers.

The leaders, Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League, Melanie Campbell, who heads up the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, Derrick Johnson, NAACP President, and Rev. Al Sharpton, founder the National Action Network, say the emphasis on bailing out big businesses needs to be weighed with the need to assist low-income workers.

These individuals are increasingly getting their hours cut or losing their jobs altogether and struggling to make ends meet.

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“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said, according to New York Amsterdam News. “Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”

“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely to have paid sick leave,” Johnson explained. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”

Sharpton said he feared the access to quality health care facilities would negatively impact Black people and other communities of color.

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“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”

Campbell said she is concerned about the impact school closings will have on Black families.

“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who … don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,” Campbell told the New York Amsterdam News, adding “comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than ever.”

Schumer told reporters yesterday that he was against big industry bailouts at the expense of help for everyday citizens, who are most harmed because of the coronavirus. Schumer said coronavirus bailout money needs to “put workers first.”

“We’re not going to bail out an industry and then have them cut workers, cut their salaries and all kinds of things like that,” Schumer told MSNBC.