Saturday on Uprfront with Jesse Jackson, the Obama Administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was the main focus, and discussion centered on whether or not stimulus money is getting to the people who need it the most.
Joining Rev. Jackson on the program were: Dr. Robert Donaldson, mayor of Hazel Crest, IL; Jonathan Jackson, national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Dr. Robert Starks, political science professor at Northeastern Illinois University; and Johnnie Lee Savory, advocate for the wrongfully convicted.
"We are in the talking stages at this point," said Donaldson referring to stimulus money designated to the city of Hazel Crest. "The money has been allocated but we have not seen it yet."
Donaldson went on to explain a portion of the funds that will be sent to his city will be used for their Neighborhood Stabilization Project. The program focuses on restoring foreclosed and abandoned homes to be put back on the market.
In other attempts to stimulate the economy and create jobs, the Obama Administration has proposed investing in transportation and environmental infrastructure across the country. Projects eligible to receive funds and must be what is called "shovel ready."
"Low income areas across the country do not have shovel ready projects," said Matire. "And most do not have the skilled workforce to benefit from the jobs that will be created. Construction jobs in the state of Illinois are high paying positions but there is an extremely low number of African Americans who are in that field. There are few apprenticeship or training programs to attempt to include more African Americans."
Although the current economic crisis has been compared to the Great Depression, Jonathan Jackson noted, "What people should realize is that during the Great Depression, the banks failed at the end of the cycle. Today the financial industry started this crisis which has ultimately affected other businesses causing the sky rocketing unemployment numbers. This is truly unprecedented territory."
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund's 38th Annual Conference will be held from June 27th-July 1 at the Hyatt McCormick Place, 2233 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago, IL.
The conference theme is "A More Perfect Union - Targeted Stimulus: The Key to Reconstruction,".
During the week, Rev. Jackson and some of the nation's most prominent leaders will discuss the process of reconstructing America during this great financial downturn.
"Upfront with Jesse Jackson" airs every Saturday at 9 p.m. CST on the WORD Network.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. To learn more, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366. To arrange an interview with Rev. Jackson, please call the numbers listed above.