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Forums Will Address Economic Recovery for City, African Americans

Kim Chase/WEAA

Members of Maryland’s delegation in the House and Senate as well as leaders in Baltimore’s business community will come together for two events in as many days to discuss the economic challenges facing the city in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin is holding a town hall meeting Monday on business in Baltimore.

The forum is expected to include discussion of the senator's membership on the Senate committees on Finance, Foreign Relations and Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and address the ongoing recovery of the business community following the city's unrest.

Cardin spoke out on Friday after learning that FEMA denied the state's request for a disaster declaration following April's riots. In a statement, the Democrat expressed his disappointment over the decision, saying that the unrest impacted the region far too much for local officials to handle on their own. He added that he would support an appeal, should state leaders seek one. 

Cardin also plans to provide more detail about a broad package of civil rights and law enforcement reforms introduced last week. The package is known as the "Baltimore Act.”

This issue is deeper and wider than [the unrest]. It is all rooted in persistent poverty in urban communities.

On Tuesday, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Democrats of the Joint Economic Committee will hold an event and press conference in Baltimore to discuss the impact of economic challenges and persistent inequities facing African-American communities in Baltimore and across the country. 

Rep. G. K. Butterfield, chairman of the CBC, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congress JEC, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will be joined by members of the CBC, the JEC, House Democratic members of the Maryland Delegation, and community leaders. 

Butterfield appeared on The Marc Steiner Show Monday, and said that the panel will share findings from the JEC’s research on economic inequalities.   

“We’ve done the research on Baltimore and the statistics are absolutely appalling,” Butterfield told Steiner. “We all saw the civil unrest that took place in Baltimore a few weeks ago after the senseless murder of Freddie Gray. But the Congressional Black Caucus and the Joint Economic Committee have been very quick to say that this issue is deeper and wider than that single incident. It’s all rooted in persistent poverty in urban communities.”

Butterfield added that the JEC reports a 14.8 percent unemployment rate for African Americans in Baltimore, 2.5 times the rate for whites in the city. The report also shows a median income for African-American households of $34,000 versus $63,000 for whites, and that 27 percent of African Americans in Baltimore live in poverty, Butterfield said.

The CBC public forum will be held Tuesday at the Learning Commons at University of Baltimore from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Click below for the link to the full conversation with CBC representatives on The Marc Steiner Show