To the Editor:
Black History Month is a time to reflect on how far we have come as a people and all we have left to do. As President Obama has said, it is "a story of resilience and perseverance."
I am the great-grandson of a slave, the grandson of a sharecropper, and a black farm owner. I spent years battling discrimination and fighting on behalf of black farmers across the country. President Obama brought closure to that chapter in our history. He signed a bill providing more than $1 billion dollars in funding for black farmers who were discriminated against for too long.
African Americans are lucky to have a strong advocate in President Obama. He is committed to restoring middle class security, and ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot at the American dream. We have all benefitted from a country where everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules.
The 18 small business tax cuts that the president passed put money back in the pockets of nearly two million African-American business owners. Over 18 million African American workers have a little extra money in each paycheck thanks to the President's payroll tax cut. We have a Wall Street watchdog cracking down on predatory lending that disproportionately affects black America. And manufacturing, a driving force behind the black middle class, has grown under President Obama for the past two years-the first time in over a decade.
The Affordable Care Act made access to quality, affordable health care a right for African-Americans, who are twice as likely to be uninsured as the country overall. Thanks to health care reform, insurance providers must offer free annual checkups and preventive care. Insurance companies can't deny us coverage if we have a preexisting condition, and four million more African-Americans can now get health care through Medicaid.
President Obama has called education equality the "civil rights issue of our time." Education is a critical part of an economy built to last. That's why he expanded childhood education programs like Head Start and doubled the Pell Grant scholarships that help half of all African American students pay for college. He also secured $850 million in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities that will educate African-American students for years to come. A good education made the children and grandchildren of sharecroppers into doctors, lawyers and ministers, and it will help the next generation reach even higher.
I first met Barack Obama when he was a senator and I asked for his support for black farmers. He did the right thing, both as a senator, and as president, and helped end 30 years of injustice for our nations' black farmers. That is a clear example of how the President is committed to resolving injustices and moving our country in the right direction.
It's true that we have more work to do. African-Americans were hit especially hard by the recession. But we have come far, and President Obama is making sure everyone has the chance to take part in our recovery. He knows American communities will thrive when everyone plays by the same rules. During Black History Month, let us take stock of the gains we have made and the leaders like President Obama we have to thank for it.
John Boyd Jr.
founder, National Black