What's the agenda for black America under President Trump?
What's the agenda for black America under President Trump? Two guests from differing political perspectives discuss.
President Trump met with a group of African-American leaders for "a little breakfast" at the start of Black History Month this week.
Ben Carson, Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and only black cabinet pick, was at the gathering. Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Urban League were not.
While President Trump praised the accomplishments of key black figures from history - Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks - others asked what the Trump administration will mean for America's black agenda.
What President Obama achieved for black America
Tim Watkins: "[Obama] was blocked from day one. They [Congress] threw everything at him but the cotton gin. He was facing insurmountable odds coming into the office and then everything that he tried to do, right or wrong was blocked."
Marie Stroughter: I disagree with my esteemed counterpart, in that when President Obama initially got into office, he had a Democrat-controlled Congress for the first two years. So anything that could have gotten pushed through, he could have pushed through. But I think my biggest issue with respect to African-Americans has to do with jobs and particularly black youth or black teens. They had almost 50 percent unemployment under President Obama. So I think by those measurable standards, we did not perform as well as we could have and have under other administrations.
What President Trump can do to address the needs of the black community
Stroughter: I believe one of the key features that he discussed during his campaign and one that he specifically addressed to the African-American community is law and order. I think there is no doubt that black-on-black crime is skyrocketing and that cities like Chicago and other places are in dire need of our help in terms of being able to address the violence that's an epidemic in the black community.
Watkins: But you're looking at the extreme when you look at a city center where folks that have been living in desperation for generations are turning on each other. We've got a desperate situation across the country, in all these urban centers. And until we resolve the underlying problem - the world says it's poverty, I say it's poor public policy shrouded it with poverty - let's end this so-called war on poverty and start one on poor public policy.
Stroughter: I believe that under President Trump we have that hope. He is addressing education issues, I think, when we look at places where the black/white achievement gap is widening every single day. And when we look at poor performing schools, they are generally in the inner cities which have been under Democrat policy for decade upon decade upon decade.
Answers have been edited for clarity.