This is the month we honor the many contributions African Americans have made to our nation. Through centuries, African Americans have fought courageously for their rights and the rights of others, charting a path toward equality and freedom that has brought our nation closer to the promise of a more perfect union.
But this is also a month to reflect on what progress can be made if we work together. Every child deserves a quality education, no matter where they live. Every person must have access to affordable health care and housing. And to honor the promises enshrined in our Constitution, we must remove any shadow of discrimination that prevents any person, regardless of race, from getting a job or casting a ballot.
These are the promises Democrats have fought for and we will continue to work toward with purpose, knowing they are true to America’s fundamental values.
I’m Virgie Rollins, the Chair of the DNC’s Black Caucus. As we kick off and celebrate Black History Month, we Democrats have so much to be proud of, and so much work left to do. That’s why throughout the month of February, we will be featuring various elected officials and leaders in our party from across the country, telling all of you about “Our Values, Our Voice, and Our Vote.”
The Democratic Party believes that every American, regardless of where you were born or what you look like, deserves access to a quality education, affordable health care, to earn a living wage, to get a little help from your neighbors when you need it.
Democrats are committed to making sure all children regardless of income have the opportunity to get a first-rate education. That’s why President Obama and Democrats support expanding programs like Head Start, since studies show early childhood education is critical to future success. And that’s also why President Obama and Democrats have promoted initiatives like Race to the Top to reward schools for innovation and partnered with schools that need assistance to improve.
Many African Americans are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, and unemployment in communities of color is disproportionately higher than the national average. President Obama has exhibited true leadership by calling on governors and businesses across the country to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which economists say will lift millions of Americans out of poverty – with African Americans standing to benefit.
Under the Affordable Care Act, 9 million Americans have already enrolled to receive health insurance coverage through private insurers via the health care exchanges, through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or through the expansion of Medicaid. But millions more stand to benefit if Republican governors holding out would accept the federal dollars to help those in their states who need it most. 7.3 million African Americans already have access to benefits through the no cost-sharing feature of ACA, and free preventative screenings and procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
And while Republicans in Congress allowed federal unemployment benefits to expire, President Obama is taking action to help the long-term unemployed through partnerships with more than 300 companies and special job training.
It is clear that Democrats truly value economic opportunity for all.
Democrats have shown the true diversity of our party and made phenomenal strides over the past several years, namely with the election of President Barack Obama. From Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the first black chief executive of that Commonwealth, or Senator Cory Booker, the first African American New Jerseyans have sent to represent them in the U.S. Senate, in all 50 states, there are examples of progress and pride for us all. You will hear from many of them this month.
Although the Voting Rights Act was weakened by last year’s Supreme Court decision, we remain steadfast in our resolve to protect and expand access to the ballot box for every American. Unfortunately, GOP legislatures and governors in states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina have engaged in a cynical campaign to make voting harder, which just isn’t right. New voting restrictions and identification requirements have imposed unnecessary burdens on low-income, African American, and Latino voters, but Democrats are fighting back.
So join us as we reflect on the many accomplishments and diversity of our party this month, and as we look to the important elections ahead of us this fall to keep moving the country forward. Each day in February, we will provide new graphics, videos, or blogs for you to share with social networks and your family and friends. We hope that you do – we’ve got work to do!
Virgie Rollins is a small business owner and the chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Black Caucus. She is a native of Michigan and lives in Detroit.
January can be pretty bleak, you guys. It's already dark by the time I go to lunch, it's been near single digits this week in D.C. (though as a native Chicagoan I probably shouldn’t complain), and Democrats have to think about Election Day when for most people, it's too far off to care.
But our January deadline is critical — and we're close enough that I'm getting excited about meeting our goals. But we need you on this. We're looking at competitive races across the map, including places you might not normally think of — like Texas, Arizona, and Georgia. But we need Democrats to donate $10 or more to keep our footing strong across the country.
Our deadline is midnight tonight, and I'm confident that if you take action, we'll be able to lay the strategic groundwork in places across the country to celebrate Democratic victories in November.
How does that sound? Pretty good?
Chip in today:
First Lady Michelle Obama sent an email to supporters urging them to chip in to support Democrats protecting Obamacare. Here's what she had to say:
Earlier this month, because of what you did, it became illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against the up to 129 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions. Young Americans are able to stay on their parents' health care plans as they get on their feet, and we can now know that our insurance companies won't put lifetime caps on our coverage.
You should be so proud of that. That happened because you organized, you talked to your friends and neighbors, and you chipped in what you could, when you could, to elect Barack and a Congress who supported his agenda.
Today, I'm asking you to do it again.
So before Barack gives his State of the Union address tomorrow, chip in $10 or more and help protect Obamacare:
Thank you so much,
On Tuesday, President Obama will head to the Capitol to deliver his fifth State of the Union address to Congress and the American people.
But a lot happens before the President steps into the Houes of Representatives chamber.
To give the public a peek into that preparation, the White House is handing over the reins of its Instagram account each day this week to a different person, beginning yesterday with White House speechwriter Cody Kennan.