Exclusive: Cedric Richmond Speaks with Black Publishers on the Black Vote, Vaccines

Cedric Richmond, senior advisor to President Joe Biden, spoke to Black publishers from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Wednesday, October 13 on everything from debunking HBCU funding prioritization to the Black vote.

Richmond, previously a Congressional Black Caucus chair, spoke that Wednesday morning on the NNPA’s live breaking-news program, “Let It Be Known.” He also was featured in a livestream interview with NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards and NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. where they discussed these topics.

Richmond, who is the White House Office of Public Engagement director, said that misinformation is deliberately published by news outlets and posted across social media to paint Biden and Democrats as illegitimate.

The $4.2 billion received in 2021 by historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) — under the Biden administration — signifies the notably a major, single-year federal government funding from any president in U.S. history, he said.

“We see more and more misinformation. When you see reports that the Biden administration is cutting funding to HBCUs by $30 billion, it is patently false,” Richmond said, adding that it’s geared toward impacting the Black vote negatively.

“It’s being pushed around so young African Americans and people who went to HBCUs would get discouraged and say that there’s no difference from President Biden and President Trump, or that Trump did more for HBCUs,” Richmond said. “Funding for HBCUs is usually less than $1 billion per year. Just this year alone, we’ve given HBCUs $4.2 billion, and because of that, some HBCUs are financially capable of forgiven student debt right now. A lot of them are making investments in their campuses. We still want to double or triple funding over the next 10 years to invest in their facilities,” he said. “We’re going to do that, but there’s been no administration ever to invest in HBCUs more than us.”

Beyond HBCUs, Biden, through various executive orders, legislative actions — and other issues of critical to the Black community “has shown that he hasn’t just talked the talk, but has walked the walk,” NNPA wrote.

Walking the walk for the Biden administration includes ensuring that housing insecurity is addressed.

“Part of that is making sure that African Americans can stay in their homes during this recession. (We) have put in place programs and mechanisms to make that happen,” Richmond said of the Biden administration reviewing barriers to systemic racism and housing in the federal government and creating programs to start to “dismantle that.”

Richmond also talked about police brutality and putting enforcements in place – even if other governmental entities are not acting fast enough to combat the problem.

“One common thing you’re going to hear, where Congress won’t act we will,” Richmond said of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

“DOJ immediately banned chokeholds and carotid (a type of restraint) holds,” Richmond said. “We reformed the use of no-knock warrants with all law enforcement. We are acting where we can act — and in the process of a comprehensive executive order — doing as much as we can under the constitution with the president’s signature.”

Richmond went on to discuss voter suppression, which could happen in several ways including creating barriers in Legislative measures to suppress voting with:

  • Voter ID requirements or other measures
  • Using misinformation to persuade people that voting doesn’t matter

“We are seeing that more and more,” Richmond said, adding that the Black vote is critical now more than ever. “We have to show our voters what we have done for them — whether it is promoting Black maternal health … telling U.S. attorneys to stop charging the harshest sentence … and investing in community violent prevention programs.”

Richmond added that the Biden administration is working on things that “people don’t know about” all with the intention of “investing in the African American community” so that present and future generations are set up for success.

“Black people can chart their own future … as long as it is you fulfilling your destiny and we want to make sure we put enough investment out there for children and parents to make that decision,” Richmond said.

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