The Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission
Assessment of President Barack Obama´s 2011 State of the Union Address
The principal mission of the Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission is to continuously monitor and evaluate the policy priorities and legislative proposals of presidential administrations in relationship to the needs, issues, vital interests and aspirations of people of African descent in the U.S. and globally. Drawing from policy priorities of various constituencies, organizations and agencies within the Black community, the objective of the Commission is to assess how presidential administrations respond to or implement a Black Agenda. The Commission asserts its prerogative to perform this function within the context of an American body politic where a wide range of interest groups mobilize, organize and lobby to advance their goals. This function is particularly important given the long history of the “color line,” prejudice, bigotry and structural/institutional racism, as a major impediment to social, economic and political progress of Black people in the country. The Commission certainly acknowledges the significance of the election of the first African American President as a milestone in the history of the United States. However, the virulent, negative reaction to President Obama by segments of our society is symptomatic of a racial subtext to some of the fierce policy debates raging in Washington. In this regard, the “State of Emergency” afflicting millions of Black poor and working people, strongly indicates the urgent need for vigilance in monitoring how this and future administrations devise policies designed to achieve justice and full equality for people of African descent in America.
It is also important to note that while the Commission derives information and policy recommendations from a variety of sources, ultimately its Assessments and Report Cards are formulated based on the perspective that government has a definitive role and affirmative obligation to advance policies and programs to eradicate discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or age, to protect the public from excesses of corporations and private interests within a Capitalist economy, to promote social and economic inclusion, equity/parity and to facilitate/enable people in this country to realize a quality standard of living.