With all Americans bearing the brunt of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), today called on President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress to make sure all Americans benefit from the nearly $1 trillion that will be spent to restore the health of citizens and the economy.
“I want to weigh in on behalf of regular people,” said Dr. Steele, who currently heads the civil rights organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “We have seen this socialist bailout of corporate America before. As the Trump Administration and Congress prepare to help some corporations, hand out new contracts and create new jobs to address this pandemic, we must ensure that billions ends up in the hands of the people who have been historically left behind. Poor people, black and brown people, must be recipients of these gifts of generosity that normally go to corporations.”
President Trump has said efforts are underway to financially assist corporations that have been hit hard by Convid-19, including the travel and cargo industries. He has announced plans to assist small businesses, but there are no specifics how those disbursements will be handled, and he has announced plans to give all families at least $2,400 to help them through the crisis.
“When it comes to bearing the weight, it is not fair that the corporations get the support when the rest of us starve,” Dr. Steele said. “We saw our government bail out the banks during the housing collapse. We also bailed out the auto industry and Wall Street. Those industries recovered, but we didn’t. Most black and brown people lost their homes. We lost our wealth. Nearly 75 percent of poor people are living from check to check. Many of us have no health insurance. We can’t afford to take a day off work.”
Dr. Steele said the SCLC, which has focused on the plight of the poor and the voiceless since the days of Dr. King, has received calls for individuals and groups who are concerned about how individuals with no jobs and insurance will fair during this pandemic and recover after the crisis is over.
“They are asking, ‘Where are our leaders,’” Dr. Steele said. “They are not seeing them standing up to make sure the real money will flow down to the people most impacted. That is why the SCLC is taking a stand. We must fight to make sure our government does not repeat what has happened in the past. We need more than $1,200 to catch up in America. We will not be left behind this time.”