Last week, President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda for the year ahead: expanding access to preschool education for every American child, making the minimum wage a living wage, and reducing gun violence in our communities.
But as our executive director, Patrick Gaspard, notes in his video message marking Black History Month, the President can’t do this on his own. And as we celebrate the many contributions of African Americans throughout our history and the progress we've made in the fight for equal opportunity, this should also be a moment to focus on the change we still need. This month, let's commit ourselves to working toward President Obama's vision of stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America.
Watch Gaspard's message, then say you stand with President Obama in the fight to make sure our best days are still ahead of us.
February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a mobilization initiative targeting African Americans in the United States. On this day, we must remember the people we have lost to this disease and commit ourselves to empowering our community through education and treatment. It is also a day to pay tribute to the survivors and to those fighting every day to end the epidemic. Like millions of Americans, I’ve been personally affected, losing friends and loved ones. This epidemic has hit the African American community particularly hard, with African Americans accounting for more than half of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
In 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, which bars insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for anyone who has a pre-existing condition, like HIV/AIDS. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will ensure that Medicaid coverage is available to all low-income Americans. As a result, low-income adults living with HIV will no longer have to wait for an AIDS diagnosis to become eligible for coverage. The Affordable Care Act also gradually closes the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug benefits, giving people with Medicare who live with HIV/AIDS more resources to pay for life-saving medications. President Obama and Democrats are committed to increasing access to care and improving health care outcomes for those living with HIV/AIDS.
All of these measures will make a huge difference, but we must stand together and get involved in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS. Testing is at the core of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Today and every day, help spread the world about HIV prevention, and more important, know your status. Share information with friends and family to get educated on the facts, get tested, and get involved in combatting this epidemic.
Find out more about the National HIV/AIDS Strategy here.
As mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson has seen firsthand how President Obama's policies on clean energy, infrastructure, and education have had a positive impact on his city. And with this year's presidential race reaching an apex, Johnson told the Obama campaign to put him to work and send him anywhere they needed him. That's how the Californian found himself in North Carolina this week, campaigning in one of the most critical states in this year's election. It doesn't hurt that this is basketball country—because before he was Mayor Johnson, he was KJ, an all-star who played for the Phoenix Suns.
"Right now, we're in the fourth quarter," Johnson says, "and we're up maybe by a point or two. The other side is digging deep. They're going to try to make a run. We have to open up the lead." And now that early voting has begun statewide, he's here to get out the vote.
Four years ago, President Obama won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes—five per precinct—and it was the first time the Tar Heel State had voted to send a Democrat to the White House in 32 years. It's going to be close, Johnson says, and it's going to come down to the volunteers and organizers on the ground. But North Carolina has a chance to decide our next president: If Mitt Romney doesn't win North Carolina, it's going to be extremely difficult for him to win the White House.
And what about those reports that the Romney campaign is pulling out of North Carolina? Don't fall for it, says Johnson. "In basketball, that's called a head fake. North Carolina, we can expand the lead here. We gotta play to win. We gotta get people out to the polls."
Fonzworth Bentley has a book, a record, and a TV show. He's worked with Diddy and some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Even with such a colorful career—and closet—he says getting out the vote for President Obama is one of the most important things he's done. This week, he's on the Gotta Vote bus in North Carolina—familiar campaign stomping grounds:
"Four years ago, I was in the trenches right here in North Carolina. I was cutting turf. I saw the difference a knock makes. I saw the difference leaving a voicemail makes. Eight years ago, this wasn't a battleground. Today, the color of this state has changed—red to blue—and that's because of you.
"Vote.barackobama.com. I need you to Facebook it, text it, tweet it, Instagram it—whatever you got. In 2008, we won by 14,000 votes in North Carolina. That breaks down to five votes per precinct. So you need to not only vote—you gotta get in touch with five more people and make sure they vote too. This is serious. This is real. But I am confident—because I believe in you."