ABSTRACT. There is growing numbers of African American scholars and political activists who are voicing their disappointment that President Obama has not put forth a black legislative agenda. It appears that their criticism holds the President disproportionately responsible for the lack of progress in addressing the social and economic concerns that have plagued the African American community for generations. However, to date it appears that these critics have not published an explanation of how Congressional obstruction by House and Senate Republicans, as well as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s failure to negotiate filibuster reform prevents the President from successfully navigating any legislation in Congress as well as and judicial and executive nominations that, if passed, would support the infrastructure needed to more successfully promote broad social reform for economically vulnerable Americans. In this paper, I will explain that while there are numerous legitimate issues of concern for the black community, the insistence of a presidential or Congressional black agenda is a political non-starter. I will also argue that the failure to explain the complexities related to Congressional obstruction is promoting a disservice and undermining the capacity of community activists and political allies from engaging in collaborative political action with constituencies with similar concerns to put forth an agenda that can accomplish much needed social change. The insistence of a black agenda also undermines the opportunity to strengthen African American electoral turnout in party primaries, mid-term elections, and state and local elections. It also weakens the focus on other pipelines that allow politicians to come to Congress with the intent of rolling back social and political development for all people of color. The African American community can achieve many of their goals by supporting a political agenda that benefits their community by engaging in effective collective action for vulnerable low and middle-income voters who need banking and housing reform, immigration reform, stronger employment rights, as well as increased protection for the rights of women. pp. 7–26
JEL Codes: D72

Keywords: Black agenda; African Americans; Obama; Republicans; Congressional obstruction

How to cite: Williams, Stephanie L. (2014), "Congressional Obstruction and the 'Black Agenda:' Why Obama's Critics Are Letting Congress Off the Hook and Shortchanging the Development of Effective Political Activism," Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management 2(2): 7–26.

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Department of Government and International Affairs,
University of South Florida, United States of America

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