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Engagement on Black Economic Issues Long Overdue

November 7, 2018


In the closing months of the election season, the Black Economic Alliance invested $3.6MM in nationally-watched congressional, U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial races in more than a dozen states to advocate for candidates committed to advancing economic opportunity for Black Americans. Together, with our partners on the ground, we’ve forced a discussion on how elected leaders must prioritize policies that will end the decades-long downward spiral in work, wages, and wealth that is harming the Black community – and the broader national economy.


Engagement on Black economic issues long overdue 


The dire economic trends facing Black Americans are both grim and well-documented. Across a variety of economic measures, the Black community has fallen increasingly behind other demographic groups over the past five decades – from average wages to home ownership, from educational attainment to workforce development. At the same time, Black Americans are overwhelmingly missing out on the jobs of the future.  Today, Black Americans make up just 6.8% of technology jobs with a paltry 1.1% of those jobs in high-paying, high skilled engineering jobs in the sector. While unemployment levels among Black Americans hit record lows earlier in 2018, the community continues to lag behind other groups, with nearly double the unemployment rate of Caucasians and significantly higher unemployment than Hispanics. As one Atlanta woman described the challenges in a Black Economic Alliance survey of Black voters: “They build more apartments, I can’t afford one. They’re building more houses, I can’t buy one. All these new jobs, I don’t have the right degrees to get one.” 


Despite these dismal statistics, there has not been an organized effort to elect leaders in either Congress or the Governor’s Mansions who will champion policies that promote economic opportunity for Black Americans – until now. 


These issues compelled a group of top Black executives and aligned advocates to form the Black Economic Alliance earlier this year – to demand that our elected leaders and candidates for office commit to advancing an economic agenda that provides opportunity for Black Americans and to ensure this critical discussion continues well beyond Election Day. Our organization went through a rigorous vetting and interview process with 26 candidates who pledged to be champions for Black economic progress. The Black Economic Alliance has contributed directly to these candidate campaigns, developed economic messaging targeted towards Black voters, and worked with a variety of grassroots organizations to help get out the vote for:

  • Seven gubernatorial candidates: Stacey Abrams (GA), Richard Cordray (OH), Andrew Gillum (FL), Ben Jealous (MD), James Smith (SC), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Tom Wolf (PA). 

  • Five Senate candidates: Phil Bredesen (TN), Mike Espy (MS), Bill Nelson (FL), U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (VA), Beto O’Rourke (TX).

  • Fourteen Congressional candidates: Colin Allred (TX-32), Lauren Baer (FL-18),  Linda Coleman (NC-02), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Brendan Kelly (IL-12), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Kathy Manning (NC-13), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Debbie Powell (FL-26), Clarke Tucker (AR-02), and Lauren Underwood (IL-14)

For the critical 2018 midterm elections, the Black Economic Alliance has primarily endorsed candidates in key races in states and districts where there is a significant Black population and voter turnout in our communities could be decisive – and where the data analytics show our support can have an impact. As of the opening of the polls this morning, several of the candidates endorsed by the Black Economic Alliance remain locked in extraordinarily close races that will likely be decided on the margins.


Black Economic Alliance invested $3.6MM in 2018 elections


Over the past several months, the Black Economic Alliance has worked to translate an unprecedented level of grassroots engagement this cycle into support for our endorsed candidates through concerted on-the-ground GOTV efforts with partners inclu