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Obama Seeks Support for Economic Policy From Prominent Black Leaders


President Obama met Thursday with leaders of the NAACP, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and other prominent social justice groups largely focused on the needs of African-Americans.

At times during Mr. Obama's first term, such a meeting would have drawn notoriety amid charges — from people such as PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley and social activist Cornel West — that the president was reluctant to push policies specifically aimed at helping the poor, especially low-income African-Americans.

White House director of African-American media Kevin Lewis was in the thick of answering such charges like those back in President Obama's first term. In an interview with the NewsHour, Lewis explained why the president's policies helped everyone.

"In the first term we did a good job of trying to get the policy right, to fight Congress to keep student loan [rates] low, preserve unemployment benefits, the earned income tax credit. Those are huge to the African-American community," said Lewis, who has been with Mr. Obama since the 2008 campaign.

"[Just because] you don't put 'black agenda' or African-American in front of a policy doesn't mean it doesn't absolutely help African-Americans," said Lewis.

In his State of the Union address, the president highlighted plans for a slate of programs to help low-income neighborhoods, including pre-school for all children and start-up loans for businesses.

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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.