Civil rights groups open K Street office in final health-care push
By Krissah Thompson
After some small-scale, disjointed efforts to push for health care reform, civil rights groups are renting temporary office space on K Street and combining their efforts to run an operations center with the sole goal of lobbying on health care policy.
The office will be run by staffers from the National Urban League, the NAACP and the Black Leadership Forum. Over the next two weeks, they will coordinate rallies in 10 cities, run a phone bank where volunteers will pepper members of Congress with calls and keep up with the latest developments in the debate.
The groups are calling the effort a "war room" and plan to staff it long hours each day, creating a central hub for the civil rights groups to share ideas and staff resources. The voices of minorities, who are disproportionately represented among the poor and uninsured and could benefit the most from reform -- and who also are more likely than others to have chronic illnesses such as diabetes -- have been a small part of the contentious health care debate.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said the groups have been working behind the scenes but are trying to push to the front in the final stretch. "What's important here is that this represents among this generation of civil rights leaders a very important strong unified public stand," he said. "We support the robust public option. We have not heard a single alternative that would both make coverage accessible and affordable."
The central office is a first for the civil rights organizations, which in recent years have tended to go their separate ways with the National Urban League focused almost exclusively on the economic issues facing the black community and the NAACP on social issues.
"If we were going to do something unprecedented and pool our resources and combine our staff, this is the time to do it," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said of the joint effort. "For black people, for people of color, the constant delays and deliberation have cost people lives. Most black people know someone who has died for want of effective health care policy."
Web Politics Editor
November 2, 2009; 5:16 PM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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