Outside editorial: From the NAACP to the Chamber of Commerce, the battle cry is: Focus on jobs

Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:

President Barack Obama and Congress must address American joblessness - and soon.

It's a message being echoed from all corners right now. This week in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued an open letter to the president titled "Jobs for America." At the same time, in downtown Kansas City, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked for the national spotlight to move from the group's criticism of the tea party to jobs.

Though the proposed solutions of the two groups differ, they were both right to make this call. Too many Americans are without work today. In Kansas City, the Rev. Jesse Jackson nailed the problem with his statement that while there are rescue plans for banks, automakers, states and real estate, Congress is still unwilling to do anything comprehensive about creating jobs.

The 9.5 percent June national unemployment rate is bad. The 15.4 percent unemployment rate for African-Americans and the 12.4 percent rate for Hispanics are worse. In many urban centers, unemployment rates are much higher yet.

A jobless recovery is not a real recovery. Jobs must be a centerpiece of the national dialogue heading into the autumn elections.

The NAACP's focus on job creation highlighted a six-day convention that overall was a huge positive for Kansas City. Thousands of first-time visitors were pleasantly amazed by the rejuvenated downtown, the museums in the 18th and Vine District, jazz music and outstanding restaurants.

Delegates also got a lot of work done, addressing issues as varied as childhood obesity, climate change, racial profiling and the Gulf oil spill.

First lady Michelle Obama brought her rousing "Let's Move!" campaign to combat childhood obesity into focus for the 10,000 convention goers. She added muscle to the NAACP's efforts to get its ranks into better shape for the ongoing civil rights struggle.

Speakers correctly noted that the United States is not in a post-racial age. Much work remains to be done to end bigotry.

Unfortunately, racism and hard feelings flourish when economic development opportunities aren't plentiful enough to go around. So the focus on jobs is exactly right.

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