Legacy civil rights leaders say they are not included in Biden transition
National Urban League's Marc Morial says they're 'asking for some kind of consultation,' not veto power.
Officials from major civil rights groups like the NAACP and National Urban League are saying they have been left out of conversations about cabinet picks for the administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“We aren’t asking for some kind of veto, we are asking for some kind of consultation,” Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League, told NBC News. “We are still in a wait-and-see mode, but we think that the civil rights community should be more closely engaged.”
The incoming Biden-Harris administration has made several diverse picks, including an all-woman communications team boasting three Blacks: Karine Jean-Pierre, Ashley Etienne and Symone Sanders. Longtime diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield was chosen to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; acclaimed labor economist Cecilia Rouse was named the next head of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Adewale Adeyemo was selected deputy Treasury secretary. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who co-chaired the Biden campaign, will be both a senior adviser to the new president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Still, Derrick Johnson, head of the NAACP, echoes Morial’s sentiments.
“We haven’t had a meeting with him,” Johnson said, “we have not had a conversation about the Georgia run-off election, we have not had direct conversations about key appointments that are going. Civil rights leaders in this country should be on par if not more than other constituency groups he has met with.”
Given the decisive influence that Black voters had on the 2020 presidential election, prominent Black leaders are seeking to have a say in how Biden will govern.
“I think they have got to understand how important and significant the expectations are with respect to African American participation in all aspects of the government — all aspects,” said Morial. “This isn’t 2008, this isn’t 1992, this isn’t 1976, this is a different time. A very, very different time. I am withholding judgment for now, but I am offering these comments.”
On MSNBC Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton said of Biden’s effort to fill these major public-service slots “we’re going to hold him accountable, but looking good so far in the initial appointments.”
Biden transition team spokesperson Jamal Brown said they are working actively to engage leaders and organizations to “ensure they have a seat at the table in helping to develop and implement the President-elect’s vision.”