“Traditionally, many workers find jobs through social networks and through personal connections that they have to the labor market. But, because low-income individuals are typically less mobile, more isolated, and less socially connected than other people, they are often left out of the social networks that, in practice, lead to jobs for most Americans.” — Sarah Bloom Raskin, keynote address to NCRC annual conference, March 22, 2013

Over the 24 annual conferences of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC] that I have attended, I have heard numerous public officials speak. This year HUD Secretary Julián Castro stressed that “when local communities thrive, our nation is stronger.” My personal favorite was last year’s remarks by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren [D, MA]. Run Warren Run!

Sarah Bloom Raskin Raskin 2013 [then a Federal Reserve Governor and confirmed a year later as a US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury] offered the best explanation that I have ever heard a public official offer, of why community economic development should be a priority for economic justice:

“Location presents thorny challenges for many low-wage workers. Within metropolitan areas, jobs are not spread out evenly and job creation tends to be depressed in low-income communities. As a result, many low-wage workers face long commutes and serious commuting difficulties due to less reliable transportation and an inadequate transportation infrastructure.”

I posted a blog on April 4, 2013, Leveraging Business Growth For Local Jobs, sharing Raskin’s remarks as a cornerstone to building economically sustainable communities. This past Friday (April 3, 2015), the Chicago Tribune’s columnist Mary Schmich resurrected this prevailing challenge in her column: “Seeds of hope across Lawndale: Tough area fertile for revitalization, according to group of business owners.”

As we remember the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 4, 1968, we must acknowledge that economic justice remains elusive, including in North Lawndale, where he chose to call home in Chicago.

As I blogged last week, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, President of the North Carolina NAACP, encouraged this year’s NCRC’s conference attendees to protect the civil and economic rights that were secured by previous generations and support the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General. Rev. Barber’s speech is now available by clicking here.

As a coalition made up of members who support the enforcement of fair housing and fair lending laws, NCRC stands by Rev. Barber’s call to action and is calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring Loretta Lynch’s nomination to a vote. They have joined a wide swath of Loretta Lynch supporters that include a range of organizations and Senators from both sides of the aisle in promoting a sign-on campaign which ends April 10 to support Loretta Lynch’s confirmation.

Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted on April 4, 2015: If the Pledge of Allegiance told the truth: Truthful Pledge

This was my first week as the new CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs-USA. My U2Cando blogs represent my personal opinions not those of the organization. However, I took this job, which I found through personal connections, because ICA-USA’s mission “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth” resonates with me. I think we still have much to do in order to achieve “Justice for All.”

This week’s lyrics have a special meaning to me because the first verse of the song starts in Belfast, which I had the opportunity to visit four times and where the hatred was not racial but religious. Given this week’s terrible slaughter in Kenya because of religious hatred, one can only pray for peace on this religious holy day.

A cafeteria line in Chicago
The fat man in front of me
Is calling black people trash to his children
And he’s the only trash here I see
And I’m thinking this man wears a white hood
In the night when the children should sleep
But, they’ll slip to their window and they’ll see him
And they’ll think that white hood’s all they need
It’s a hard life, it’s a hard life
It’s a very hard life
It’s a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
Then, the hard life is all that they’ll know
And there ain’t no place in Chicago for those kids to go

It’s A Hard Life Wherever You Go
by Nanci Griffith


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