Today, President Clinton will address the Church of God in Christ Bishops Conference, one of the largest and most influential African American religious denominations, with an estimated membership of eight million. At the conference, the President will highlight the progress made during the Clinton-Gore Administration in increasing opportunity and prosperity in the African American community. The President will also discuss the challenges that still face our nation -- including expanding civil rights enforcement to ensure equal opportunity for all, enacting hate crimes legislation and improving education for our children - and call on Congress to continue the progress for African Americans and take action on these important priorities.
HIGHLIGHTING EIGHT YEARS OF PROGRESS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS. Over the last 8 years, the President and Vice President have worked to turn the nation around, bring it together, and ensure that all Americans share in the nation's prosperity. These accomplishments include:
BUILDING ONE AMERICA
Appointing An Administration that Looks Like America. President Clinton has appointed the most diverse Cabinet and Administration in history, with twice as many African American appointees as any previous administration. African Americans make up 12% of the Clinton Cabinet, 14% of Administration appointees, and 17% of Federal bench nominations. The President has appointed more African Americans to federal judgeships (62 total) than were appointed during the last sixteen years combined (57 total).
Working to End Racial Profiling. To help determine where and when racial profiling occurs, the President directed Cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement. The President has also supported increased resources for police integrity and ethics training and to improve the diversity of local police forces.
One America Initiative. President Clinton has led the nation in an effort to become One America: a place where we respect others' differences and embrace the common values that unite us. The President has been actively involved in outreach efforts to engage Americans in this historic effort, and followed up on the work of the Initiative on Race by appointing Robert B. (Ben) Johnson as Assistant to the President and Director of the new White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION
Progress for African American Students. Reading and Math test scores of African American students are up in virtually all categories. Three times as many African American students took AP exams in 1999 as did in 1988, and the percentage of African American high school graduates enrolling in college increased from 48% in 1992 to 59% in 1997 -- the highest number ever.
Opening the Doors of College to All Americans. President Clinton proposed and passed the HOPE Scholarships and Lifetime Learning tax credits, which in 1999 benefited an estimated 10 million American families paying for college. The HOPE Scholarship provides a tax credit of up to $1,500 for the first two years of college. The Lifetime Learning tax credit provides a 20 percent tax credit on the first $5,000 of tuition and fees for students beyond the first two years of college.
Proposing the Largest Head Start Expansion in History. Since 1993, the Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funding for Head Start by 90%. The President's FY 2001 budget increases funding for Head Start by another $1 billion – the largest increase ever proposed for the program – to provide Head Start and Early Head Start to approximately 950,000 children. This funding will bring within reach the President's goal of serving one million children in 2002 and builds the foundation for the long-term goal of universal pre-school. In 1998, 36% of the children enrolled in Head Start were African American.
Turning Around Failing Schools. 11 million low-income students now benefit from Title I- Aid to Disadvantaged Students, and all our children are benefiting from higher expectations and a challenging curriculum geared to higher standards. In the 1996-97 school year, 28% of the children benefiting from the Title I program were African American.
Preparing at-risk Students for College Success. The President and Vice President created and expanded GEAR-UP, a mentoring initiative, to help over 750,000 low-income middle school children finish school and prepare for college.
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES.
Historic Economic Gains. The unemployment rate and poverty rate for African Americans are both at the lowest levels on record, with an average unemployment rate of 7.7% in 2000 (down from 14.2% in 1992) and a poverty rate of 26.1% in 1998 (down from 33.1% in 1993). Median household income for African American families is up 15.1% (or $3,317) since 1993, and the poverty rate for African American children is at the lowest level on record.
Tax Cuts For Working Families. President Clinton and Vice President Gore's 1993 Economic Plan provided tax cuts to 15 million hard-pressed working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The average family with two children who received the EITC received a tax cut of $1,026. In 1997, the EITC lifted 1.1 million African Americans out of poverty. This year the President and Vice President have proposed expanding the EITC to provide tax relief to 6.4 million additional working families.
Increased Minimum Wage. The President raised the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour -- directly benefiting 1.3 million African American workers. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have called for passage of an additional $1.00 an hour increase.
IMPROVING OUR NATION'S HEALTH.
Extended Health Care to Millions of Children with the State Children's Health Insurance Program. President Clinton, with bipartisan Congressional support, provided $24 billion to health care coverage to up to five million uninsured children. African American children make up 25% of all uninsured children -- more than twice their percentage of the overall population. This year, the budget includes several proposals to accelerate enrollment of children in SCHIP.
Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by 2010. President Clinton's initiative will help eliminate racial disparities in six key health areas: infant mortality, diabetes, cancer screening and management, heart disease, AIDS and immunizations. The President and Vice President won a 200% increase for this initiative in FY 2000, and this year they have proposed $35 million to continue the effort.
MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER.
Funding 50,000 More Community Police Officers. In 1999, ahead of schedule and under budget, the Clinton-Gore Administration met its commitment to fund 100,000 police officers for our communities, with special grants to increase community policing in high-crime and underserved neighborhoods. In fall 1999, the President won funding for the first installment toward his goal to hire up to 50,000 more officers by 2005. This year, the Clinton-Gore budget includes over $1 billion to hire more officers and new community prosecutors, give police the tools and technology they need to fight crime, and fund community-wide crime fighting efforts.
More than Half a Million Felons, Fugitives and Domestic Abusers Denied Guns. Since the President signed the Brady Bill into law, more than 536,000 felons, fugitives and domestic abusers have been prevented from purchasing guns through Brady background checks. Since 1993, violent crime has fallen by 7% and gun violence has declined by 35%. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called on Congress to build on the success of the Brady Law by quickly passing a set of common-sense gun safety measures designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives.
Reducing Illegal Drug Use. In 1998, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy launched the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Last year, that campaign reached 95% of America's youth 8.3 times a week through advertising in eleven languages to youth and adults of various ethnic groups. Illicit drug use among young people age 12-17 declined from 1997 to 1999, and the average age of first-time use went up. Since 1997, overall youth drug use is down by more than 20 percent, and youth marijuana use has declined by over 25%.
ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES AHEAD. While we have made great progress in bringing the nation together and building a better future for all Americans, more remains to be done. The President will call on Congress to continue the progress of the last 8 years for African Americans by:
Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement. Because discrimination continues to be a fact of life in America, the Clinton-Gore Administration has worked to vigorously enforce the nation's civil rights laws and to make sure that civil rights enforcement budgets keep pace with the increasing responsibility. This year, the President proposed a 13 percent increase in civil rights enforcement, bringing the federal commitment to more than $1 billion per year. These funds will help the Justice Department expand investigations and prosecutions of criminal civil rights cases, including hate crimes, police misconduct cases and housing and lending cases. In addition, the EEOC will be able to continue reducing its backlog of fair employment cases, HUD will be able to reduce housing discrimination and the Departments of Education, Agriculture and Labor will be able to improve and expand civil rights compliance and enforcement programs. The House has under-funded the President's request by $133 million, and the Senate by $105 million. At these funding levels, the EEOC would be unable to pursue 3500 discrimination cases, and fewer federal civil rights cases would be pursued. The President will call on Congress to meet the nation's commitment to civil rights enforcement and fund these important programs.
Passing Hate Crimes Legislation. President Clinton called for strengthening Hate Crimes laws in his 1999 and 2000 State of the Union Addresses. Now, the House and Senate have finally approved strong Hate Crimes Legislation that would enhance the Federal government's ability to prosecute violent crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin and would authorize Federal prosecution of crimes motivated by sexual orientation, gender, or disability. The President will call on conferees to stop delay and take action on hate crimes legislation.
Investing in Education. The Clinton-Gore education strategy of investing more in our schools while demanding more from them has resulted in impressive gains for African Americans. African American students are taking tougher classes, scoring higher on standardized reading and math tests and going to college at the highest rates ever. Last year, for the first time, the African American high school graduation rate matched the rate for whites. This year, the president has proposed key investments to continue this progress, including expanding after-school opportunities for 2.5 million children, preparing 1.4 million at-risk youth for college success, providing funding to modernize 6,000 schools and repair 25,000 more over five years, reducing class size, improving teacher quality and turning around failing schools with a $250 million accountability fund. With just days away from the end of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to provide the funds our children need for these priorities. The President will call on Congress to do the right thing and give our kids the quality schools they deserve.