President Obama attends Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s annual convention in NYC.
Top White House officials spoke at Wednesday’s conference which marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Sharpton’s civil rights group. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan were all in attendance.
All of the speakers, especially Sharpton, focused on the importance of community and what communities need to do. “The election of this president and the selection of this Attorney General will mean nothing if those of us that wanted to see them in these places don’t do our part to validate their being there and cooperate…we need to compliment achievement with what we do on the ground,” Sharpton said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been working with Sharpton traveling across the country to black neighborhoods with the highest dropout rates. He called education “the civil rights issue of our generation,” and said, “If you can ride in the front of the bus but you can’t read, you’re not truly free.” Holder said that he will work with Sharpton to help black homeowners while Donovan will team up with him to help black homeowners facing foreclosure.
Obama’s top advisor David Axelrod spoke as well and said that there has been a drop-off in minority voting from 2008 to 2010 and that it was a key reason Democrats suffered losses in the midterm elections. The appearance of the President and the administrative officials comes just two days after the formal start of the President’s re-election campaign.