The Op-Ed from the mayors advocates for President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
Jackson mayor Chokwe Lumumba joined four other Southern black mayors in writing an Op-Ed for the Washington Post that blames “decades of divestment” from the federal government and “racial inequities” for their cities’ failure to provide clean drinking water and broadband access.
Writing alongside Lumumba for the Op-Ed were Randall Woodfin, the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Frank Scott Jr., the mayor of Little Rock, Arkanasa, Steven Reed, the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, and Adrian Perkins, the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana.
The Democrats compared the COVID-19 pandemic to the Civil War, writing that what is needed is “a new Reconstruction” and that President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is needed “to build back stronger, smarter and more equitably.”
“Reconstruction, the 12-year period immediately following the Civil War, attempted to right some of the horrible injustices that marked life for Black people in the Confederacy. It endeavored to cope with incredible suffering and rebuild after four long, terrible years — to literally reconstruct the country,” the mayors wrote. “Despite some success, the era ultimately failed to accomplish many of its objectives; Black men and women have struggled against oppression ever since. More to the point, our cities have suffered neglect for generations, the consequences of which have been made painfully obvious by the covid-19 crisis.”
The five say that while COVID-19 was not as “calamitous” as the Civil War, it has “wrought its own trauma” and exposed woes such as racial inequities in health care, housing, transportation, infrastructure and our economy.
The group writes of these “racial inequities”:
“They stem from decades of divestment in our communities as Washington sat idly by. Politicians at the national level have watched roads and bridges crumble; allowed subterranean infrastructure to fall into disrepair, leaving millions without clean, reliable drinking water; forced citizens to keep pace with utility rate increases to finance unaffordable, federally mandated consent decree projects; and failed to act as extreme weather resulting from climate change has exacerbated infrastructure problems.
There is no mention of their own role and the responsibility of their city administrations in addressing these local needs. The mayors pass the buck to D.C., calling for a Reconstruction that “addresses systemic inequities disproportionately affecting Black and rural Americans.”
The Op-Ed notes that Jackson’s 160,000 residents languished for nearly a month under similar conditions, but does not provide context as to the decades of local decisions and lack of management that played a defining part of what these Mississippi residents experienced earlier this year.
All said, the Op-Ed from Lumumba and the other mayors is essentially an advertisement aimed at pushing Biden’s spending plan.
“We need Biden’s plan to build back stronger, smarter and more equitably, and to ensure our investments position future generations for success. Without it, our communities will remain vulnerable well beyond the current crisis,” the mayors write in closing.