Three African American Racial Justice Leaders Respond To Starbucks Effort To Rectify Wrongful Arrest

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Heather McGhee, president of Demos recently released a statement regarding their participation on the Starbucks Advisory Committee, which is addressing the company’s efforts to prevent discrimination in its stores.

On April 12, two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested by police at a Starbucks location while merely waiting to meet with a business associate.  A Starbucks manager had called the police because she said the men – who had only been in the store for a brief period – had yet to make a purchase.

The racial justice leaders issued the following statement:

“The arrest of the two young men in Starbucks is a stark example of the ongoing struggle of African Americans for full citizenship and dignity in American life. Since last week, a number of other high-profile incidents involving discrimination against African Americans demonstrates the breadth and shameful persistence of this problem.

“We were encouraged by the clear and unequivocal statements by Starbucks’ leadership, expressing their desire and intention to deal directly with the issue of racism. This is a rare phenomenon in corporate America. We have pushed and will continue to work to ensure that this highly visible moment – for Starbucks’ 175,000 employees, the other major corporations who watch Starbucks, and the country –  is done right. We have been clear from the start that the company must build a framework for anti-bias training that extends beyond the planned May 29th training and that becomes part of the company culture. In addition to the need for an anti-discrimination curriculum – which will consist of an ongoing education for all employees, with real measures for evaluation and monitoring – we made clear that a thorough review of the company policies, as well as consultation with local, not just national leaders, is necessary as they move forward.

“Even with these caveats and concerns – and, we imagine, there will be more as this process unfolds – we realize the extraordinary step that Starbucks is taking to do better on an issue that affects every workplace. Starbucks exists in 8,000 communities in our country. We see this effort as an opportunity for Starbucks to demonstrate leadership in advancing a commitment to equal treatment and opportunity in true partnership with the communities they serve. We expect to issue a report to Starbucks, with recommendations about the company’s policies, a multi-phase training framework, and the ongoing work they will need to undertake in order to really move the ball.

“We know that the problem of anti-Black bias and other forms of discrimination is not Starbucks’ problem alone; it’s a deeply American problem, made consequential and often lethal by the compounding force of unaccountable, discriminatory policing. A larger issue here is the mass criminalization of our people, and we each made it clear to Starbucks that they have the privilege and responsibility to influence not just employee practices, but police practices in Philadelphia and across the country. We will continue to advocate on that front, both with Starbucks and with the police, and welcome your thoughts about how we can make the greatest impact.”

Mayor Bottoms Signs Agreement for City of Atlanta to Join Employment, Education and Outreach Coalition (EMPLEO)

The City of Atlanta today announced that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an agreement for the City to join the Employment, Education, and Outreach (EMPLEO) coalition. The coalition is an initiative of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division to address the concerns of recent immigrants who are not familiar with their workplace rights and responsibilities in the U.S. Welcoming Atlanta, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, facilitated the partnership with EMPLEO as part of its public safety and economic power programs, which also support Mayor Bottoms’ equity and education initiatives. The partnership will help protect Spanish-speaking members of the workforce, as well as employers, from illegal work practices that put them in unfair and unsafe situations.

“One of our city’s greatest strengths is found in our diversity. It is in that spirit that I am honored to announce Atlanta’s participation in the EMPLEO program,” said Mayor Bottoms.  “We believe that a government that works for everyone is a government at its best, particularly when informing residents of critical guaranteed workplace rights. In a time when certain segments of our society are targeted for their country of origin or nationality, Atlanta must send a strong signal to all its residents that they indeed have a seat at the table.”

Since its inception in Southern California in 2004, the EMPLEO alliance of community and non-governmental organizations, along with state, local and federal agencies and Hispanic consulates, has provided information and assistance to Spanish-speaking workers and employers regarding their workplace rights and responsibilities in the United States. EMPLEO’s toll-free hotline has been instrumental in helping thousands of workers recover more than $15 million in back wages. Over the last ten years, EMPLEO has expanded its reach to also serve immigrant workers and employers in Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Georgia.

The EMPLEO hot-line utilizes well-trained bilingual volunteers who are not part of any governmental organization to assist callers by referring them to the appropriate organization, consulate or state or federal agency for help. This arrangement can help ease various concerns of workers uncomfortable with contacting an agency directly. EMPLEO also protects employers and business abiding by State and Federal labor laws from unfair competition by those illegally cutting corners at the cost of the safety and wellbeing of their workers.

Overtime pay, minimum wage, discrimination, meals/breaks, and family medical leave are some of the top issues faced by Spanish-speaking employees. Most employees are afraid to report their concerns due to fears of retaliation or loss of employment. EMPLEO reduces the vulnerability of employees to retaliatory termination by investigating concerns and protecting them from reprisals.

“Workplace labor violations are one of the most common infractions reported by our Spanish-speaking workforce,” said Michelle Maziar, Director of the Welcoming Atlanta initiative. “By joining the coalition, the City of Atlanta can continue to inform and protect all members of our workforce and ensure that language is not a barrier to accessing justice.”

Georgia EMPELO participants include: DOL Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Women’s Bureau, Consulate General of Ecuador in Atlanta, Consulate General of Honduras in Atlanta, The Latin American Association, Georgia Hispanic Construction Association, Tapestri and City of Atlanta.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Signs Ordinance to Transfer 31 Deeds to Atlanta Public Schools

The City of Atlanta today announced that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed ordinance 18-O-1054 which transfers deeds for 31 properties to Atlanta Public Schools. Mayor Bottoms pledged to turn over the deeds during her campaign.  Within the first 30 days of her Administration, Mayor Bottoms initiated the process to begin the transfer of more than half of the property deeds. Mayor Bottoms signed the ordinance into law the day after the Atlanta City Council overwhelmingly approved the transfer.

 The ordinance included a provision requesting that APS dismiss the 31 properties from the school system’s suit against the City. Removing the transferred properties from the ongoing litigation will save Atlanta taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, that could be better spent on city services and improving public education.

“On the campaign trail and during my inaugural address, I made a commitment to partner with APS to advance our shared priorities of providing a high-quality public education for all of Atlanta’s children and creating access to affordable housing for all families. I am pleased that we are moving forward and honoring our commitment. In return, the Atlanta City Council and I asked that APS remove the transferred properties from its ongoing suit against the City. I believe we all agree that it is time to resolve this matter and dismissing these properties from the suit demonstrates that APS is equally committed to our partnership,” said Mayor Bottoms.

With the transfer of the 31 properties, along with the nine properties transferred in 2017, the City has conveyed nearly all of the properties at issue in the litigation APS filed in March 2015. The City and APS are in agreement that the remaining properties to be transferred require additional work by both APS and the City to be ready for a quitclaim transfer.  In the coming weeks, the City and APS will work together to resolve issues for the remaining properties.

The Vicious Cycle of America…That Affects Black America

racism, america, black in america, african american, racism

Racial tension in America isn’t a new thing. It is reoccurring. It happens every so often. It simply reveals what is in the hearts of many. Prejudice. It’s not a fluctuating feeling. It remains. Blacks have been on the painful side of the stick of race relations for as long as the United States have existed. This isn’t an emotional opinion, it is a fact.

 

More facts include, Blacks have good reason to be angry. The anger isn’t unwarranted. The anger has become generational. It is brought on from trauma or the witness of trauma. Though a few Blacks escape the grips of racism, discrimination and bigotry, the fact is, they are a very small minority.

 

Blacks have yet to be seen as equal, even if at isolated times we may be treated as equal. What many people don’t understand that what Blacks go through, especially Black men, is the constant fear of being mistreated, dismissed, slighted or murdered. The same constant knowledge that a Black person has that our ancestors were slaves, Whites carry a regular memory that their ancestors were “Masters”. This knowledge affects the way we interact. We walk on eggshells with each other until we know it is safe to somewhat be ourselves.Image result for black racism

 

So what has happened is Black men have created a defense mechanism. This defense mechanism looks like “thug”. This “thug” getup helps young Black men feel safe and survive. It is a proactive stance at deterring aggressive behaviors towards them. It feeds the esteem of some young Black men who feel like failures. It helps them gain respect from their peers. No one is born a thug. It is learned ad adopted.

 

But sometimes this “thug” culture backfires. It puts people, especially those not in our community, at such fear that they shoot first and ask questions later; the police in particular. When this happens, the Black community’s anger reignites and the cycle starts all over again. This anger isn’t a figment of our imagination. It is brought on by generations of disparaging treatment. The lives of Black men are not understood, while people are busy trying to get Black men to understand.

 

Black people continue to feel hopeful when issues like Michael Brown arise. We assume that the harsh reality of what publicly took place, gives Whites, police and politicians some level of solace and grow a conscience. This is why we went back to life as usual after Sean Bell, after Eric Garner, after Troy Davis, after John Crawford, after Ezell Ford, and I can even go as far back as Emmett Till. We believe the conscience and compassion has emerged, we give Whites, police and politicians the benefit of the doubt that they now understand our pain, our aggression, our doubt…but future reveals, new situations of the same demographics reveals, that their conscience and compassion was never birthed. This makes us start all over again. I employ my Black family to turn on the engines of love for each other, for educational advancement, the suppression and disdain for thuggery/intra-hood crimes, and collective economic behavior, economic discipline, ownership, economic prosperity and movement towards being a sovereign group. I ask our Black women to be considerate and compassionate towards Black men who are trying, who are doing their best and who may not be communicating his fears and vulnerabilities to you. He is being beat-up daily in ways he doesn’t share with you.

 

Black people, we have a duty to be strategic, consistent and accountable. We have a duty to not choose money over morality. We have a duty to not only be angry but to take unified action. Protesting is not enough, being proactive is. We must use our influence responsibly. We must use our access to technologies progressively. We must use our intelligence positively. We can’t wait for the conscience of others to grow while the progress of our community is being impeded. What are your children saying about the society you create and the actions and inactions you have taken? It is time…

Hillary, Rachel, Bruce, Barack: I don’t feel too Americanish today.

 

With all this talk about Rachel Dolezal, you know, the NAACP chapter president who posed as black even though she is white. Rachel fell into the trap of, not just fighting for black rights, but also trying to be one. Let’s dissect this for a minute. She did the opposite of Ellen Craft. Craft is deemed an American hero and now Dolezal is seen as evil. What is it really about? Is it about changing your race, who you are or is it so critical because she wanted to be accepted by blacks by being black? Bruce Jenner is brave for his change to Caitlyn but Rachel Dolezal is a coward for hers.

Riding home from the gym this morning, I was listening to a clip of presidential candidate Hillary ClDevin Up Closeinton’s weekend speech. To validate her position as the best presidential candidate, she spoke on all of her championing of women’s rights. Because of her speech, we woke up to a normal morning with the birds chirping and the dew on car rooftops. Why? It’s because she did nothing out of political protocol. You’re allowed to speak about women, which I support, especially seeing that she shares the same demographic as them. However, we have a sitting president in the oval office who is restricted from speaking about his.

President Obama was allowed to speak about the rights of immigrants, the rights of the LGBT community and even animal rights just as long as he doesn’t speak about black men. If he dare does that, he is forgetting that he is the president of the United States. When I hear people say that, in response to anyone urging him to push more black agendas, it makes me feel as if I am not American. It makes me feel as if he is being asked to speak on citizens on Mars because he is “only” the president of the United States. So what am I?

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I would almost bet that Hillary Clinton will speak on her demographic throughout her entire campaign without feeling retribution. I would even go as far as to say that if she gets elected she will be allowed to make public statements and steps towards the equality of women without criticism. I am sure it would be well-needed because there are areas women can be empowered in. But women aren’t the only group that is being discriminated against and held back. They are not the ones being locked up in record numbers, facing enormous unemployment and they are not the ones being innocently shot down by police officers.

It seems like the unwritten rules of the American culture is you when you march for animal rights, you’re a pet lover. When you speak highly of homosexuals, you’re inclusive. When you speak on veterans you’re a patriot. Pro woman is feminist, pro man is chauvinist and pro black is racist. So since I am not an animal, a woman or homosexual, it seems as if there is nowhere I can fit in with pride. So when Senator Barack Obama decided to campaign, he had no options except to talk about “hope”, meanwhile my hope goes out the window.

HERE ARE 44 THINGS BARACK OBAMA DID AS OUR 44th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Whether or not you agreed with his politics or leadership, you must admit that President Obama has gotten some things done. As symbolic as his presidency was, he was not a symbolic president. He actually worked and made his tenure memorable.’

Just in case you have had memory shortage, here are 44 things he did while he sat in office.

 

  1. Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 30,000.
  2. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
  3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
  4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.
  5. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
  6. Improved America’s Image Abroad: With new policies, diplomacy, and rhetoric, reversed a sharp decline in world opinion toward the U.S. (and the corresponding loss of “soft power”) during the Bush years. From 2008 to 2011, favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, with an average increase of 26 percent. pm banner
  7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades.
  1. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
  2. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
  3. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
  4. Reversed Bush Torture Policies: Two days after taking office, nullified Bush-era rulings that had allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush legal rulings supporting the use of these techniques.
  5. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
  6. Increased Support for Veterans (Finally!): With so many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Iran with serious physical and mental health problems, yet facing long waits for services, increased 2010 Department of Veterans Affairs budget by 16 percent and 2011 budget by 10 percent. Also signed new GI bill offering $78 billion in tuition assistance over a decade, and provided multiple tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
  7. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending: As part of the 2010 health care reform bill, signed measure ending the wasteful decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting July 2010 all students began getting their federal student loans directly from the federal government. Treasury will save $67 billion over ten years, $36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants to lower-income students.
  8. Created Race to the Top: With funds from stimulus, started $4.35 billion program of competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
  9. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards: Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025.
  10. Gave HBCU’s Financial Boost:$98 million in new money for HBCUs at the Department of Education. (This could’ve been more, but hey, that’s me!) This includes a 5% or $13 million increase for the Strengthening HBCUs program and support for the $85 million in mandatory funding for HBCUs in the pending Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
    1. $20.5 million for the HBCU Capital Financing program, to provide HBCUs with access to financing for the repair, renovation, and construction or acquisition of educational facilities, instructional equipment, research instrumentation, and physical infrastructure. This funding will support $279 million in new loans in 2011, more than $100 million more than in 2010.
    2. $64.5 million for the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institution program, a $3.1 million or 5% increase.
  1. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis: To keep world economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010, helped secure from G-20 nations more than $500 billion for the IMF to provide lines of credit and other support to emerging market countries, which kept them liquid and avoided crises with their currencies.
  2. Passed Mini Stimuli: To help families hurt by the recession and spur the economy as stimulus spending declined, signed series of measures (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011) to extend unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
  3. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants: New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011, likely to lead to the closing of between sixty-eight and 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Estimated cost to utilities: at least $11 billion by 2016. Estimated health benefits: $59 billion to $140 billion. Will also significantly reduce carbon emissions and, with other regulations, comprises what’s been called Obama’s “stealth climate policy.”
  4. Passed Credit Card Reforms: Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (2009), which prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification, mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees. Thank you Mr. President!
  5. Eliminated Pay Equality Laws: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 (as a matter of fact, this was one of the FIRST things President Obama ever signed), giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if that discrimination happened years ago. Under previous law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the statute of limitations on such suits ran out 180 days after the alleged discrimination occurred, even if the victims never knew about it.
  6. Protected Two Liberal Seats on the U.S. Supreme Court: Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010. They replaced David Souter and John Paul Stevens, respectively.
  7. Improved Food Safety System: In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which boosts the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion and expands its regulatory responsibilities to include increasing number of food inspections, issuing direct food recalls, and reviewing the current food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
  8. Achieved New START Treaty: Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty that limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that had lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
  9. Expanded National Service: Signed Serve America Act in 2009, which authorized a tripling of the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012, when new House GOP majority refused to appropriate more funds for further expansion.
  10. Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection: Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), which designated more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
  11. Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco: Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009). Nine years in the making and long resisted by the tobacco industry, the law mandates that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels, and bans the sale of misleadingly labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
  12. Pushed Federal Agencies to Be Green Leaders: Issued executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to make plans to soften their environmental impacts by 2020. Goals include 30 percent reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26 percent boost in water efficiency, and sustainability requirements for 95 percent of all federal contracts. Because federal government is the country’s single biggest purchaser of goods and services, likely to have ripple effects throughout the economy for years to come.
  13. Passed Fair Sentencing Act: Signed 2010 legislation that reduces sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possession from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1.
  14. Trimmed and Reoriented Missile Defense: Cut the Reagan-era “Star Wars” missile defense budget, saving $1.4 billion in 2010, and canceled plans to station antiballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of sea-based defense plan focused on Iran and North Korea.
  15. Began Post-Post-9/11 Military Builddown: After winning agreement from congressional Republicans and Democrats in summer 2011 budget deal to reduce projected defense spending by $450 billion, proposed new DoD budget this year with cuts of that size and a new national defense strategy that would shrink ground forces from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next ten years while increasing programs in intelligence gathering and cyberwarfare.
  16. Tightened Sanctions on Iran: In effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program, signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (2010) to punish firms and individuals who aid Iran’s petroleum sector. In late 2011 and early 2012, coordinated with other major Western powers to impose sanctions aimed at Iran’s banks and with Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases away from Iran.
  17. Cracked Down on Bad For-Profit Colleges: In effort to fight predatory practices of some for-profit colleges, Department of Education issued “gainful employment” regulations in 2011 cutting off commercially focused schools from federal student aid funding if more than 35 percent of former students aren’t paying off their loans and/or if the average former student spends more than 12 percent of his or her total earnings servicing student loans.
  18. Invested Heavily in Renewable Technology: As part of the 2009 stimulus, invested $90 billion, more than any previous administration, in research on smart grids, energy efficiency, electric cars, renewable electricity generation, cleaner coal, and biofuels.
  19. Improved School Nutrition: In coordination with Michelle Obama, signed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 mandating $4.5 billion spending boost and higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. New rules based on the law, released in January, double the amount of fruits and vegetables and require only whole grains in food served to students.
  20. Expanded Hate Crimes Protections: Signed Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009), which expands existing hate crime protections to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
  21. Created Recovery.gov: Web site run by independent board of inspectors general looking for fraud and abuse in stimulus spending, provides public with detailed information on every contract funded by $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Thanks partly to this transparency, board has uncovered very little fraud, and Web site has become national model: “The stimulus has done more to promote transparency at almost all levels of government than any piece of legislation in recent memory,” reports Governing magazine.
  22. Pushed Broadband Coverage: Proposed and obtained in 2011 Federal Communications Commission approval for a shift of $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.
  23. Expanded Health Coverage for Children: Signed 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act, which allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.
  24. Brokered Agreement for Speedy Compensation to Victims of Gulf Oil Spill: Though lacking statutory power to compel British Petroleum to act, used moral authority of his office to convince oil company to agree in 2010 to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; $6.5 billion already paid out without lawsuits. By comparison, it took nearly two decades for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill case to receive $1.3 billion.
  25. Expanded Stem Cell Research: In 2009, eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.
  26. Provided Payment to Wronged Minority Farmers: In 2009, signed Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past. $1.2 billion of that went to black farmers.
  27. Crafting Next-Generation School Tests: Devoted $330 million in stimulus money to pay two consortia of states and universities to create competing versions of new K-12 student performance tests based on latest psychometric research. New tests could transform the learning environment in vast majority of public school classrooms beginning in 2014.