Congressional Black Caucus meets with Pres. Biden, discuss police reform, COVID vaccines
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (third from left) and oter Congressional Black Caucus members after meeting with President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris.

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House for the first time Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting was for the CBC to present their policy vision to the Commander-in-Chief and VP.

According to CBC chair, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, the meeting was productive.

“We had an amazing meeting where we were able to share our thoughts and ideas, but we also came because we know there will be challenges,” said Beatty. She added that the meeting between the CBC and the Biden administration “was the first of many to come.”

Referencing the recent killing of an unarmed Black man, Daunte Fowler, in Minnesota, the death of CBC member Rep. Alcee Hastings and recent tribute to the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer William Evans, Beatty stated, “This has been a tough week for us. And yet we also know that another unarmed Black man was shot and killed. Too many senseless deaths,” Beatty said.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, center, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaks with members of the press alongside caucus members after meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Beatty reported that CBC discussed police brutality and the coronavirus, with a focus on vaccine access, with Biden and Harris, among other issues.

To that point, Beattu pointed out that the Democratic Party-delivered $1.9 trillion COVID relief package included provisions funding vaccine distribution to underserved minority communities.

“Now, are there some people who remember the Tuskeegee experiment or Henrietta Lacks? All of us here remember that, but guess what? All of us here are vaccinated,” said Beatty, adding they sought to dispel the oft-mentioned idea of hesitancy on the part of Blacks to take the vaccine as an acceptable excuse for Blacks running behind whites in terms of numbers of those who have been vaccinated.

In an effort to directly confront any remaining vaccination hesitancy by Blacks, the CBC announced a pro-vaccine campaign they will lead in partnership with the National Urban League and NAACP.

“With the vaccine, you are seeing hesitancy, but you are also seeing a lack of education and distribution,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich. “We are trying to use all of our bully platforms … to let our community know that to live and fight this virus, we need all of you to come and get it.”

Other issues that made the CBC/Biden-Harris dialogues included voting rights and inequities in education, environmental protection, medical access, housing and affordable, food deserts and access to fresh food athe president’s upcoming infrastructure and jobs legislation.

Pres. Biden addressed Fowler’s death using carefully selected words to withhold judgement of culpability of the officer who fatally shot Fowler.

“And also, you know, with Daunte Wright [Fowler] in Minnesota — that God-awful shooting resulting in his death, and — and in the midst of an ongoing trial over the killing of George Floyd. And Lord only knows what’s happened based on what the verdict will or will not be there,” Biden said.