WEST PALM BEACH — President Barack Obama has not placed the African-American community high on his priority list.
And a bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing is an “obnoxious” piece of legislation.
That’s the view of one of the country’s leading intellectuals who slammed the Democratic president and the Republican governor in a South Florida Times interview.
Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, and commentator and president of Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., was interviewed Saturday prior to giving the featured address at a West Palm Beach Delta Sigma Theta sorority function.
“It was an exciting, stunning and astounding moment when President Obama was elected, but once the dust settled, he has to do the job of governing, and he has many constituents that he is answering to but, at the moment, the African-American community does not seem to be as high on the list as it might,” Malveaux said, citing alarming unemployment figures among blacks.
“I understand the many pressures that President Obama feels and, yes, he was elected as president by all of us, and, yet, I wish that he would pay more attention to the African-American community,” she said.
Malveaux commended the president for focusing on the “women’s agenda,” which, she said, was particularly helpful to African-American women. She also commended his healthcare initiative.
“So we have lots to celebrate and we have lots to encourage our brother to address,” she said.
Malveaux had no kind words, however, for Scott, and his signing of legislation requiring welfare recipients to pay for and submit to drug testing, a law that takes effect July 1.
“Which drug-testing company does he have a contract with?” Malveaux asked, clearly agitated.
“When things like that occur, that’s obnoxious. Will he take the drug test and pay for it himself? Will he ask the Legislature to do that? That kind of thing gets me very, very, angry.” She continued: “You cannot pick on a recipient population and impose your racist and ignorant assumptions on them. They should not have to pay for drug testing nor should they have to take a drug test – unless there’s a reason.
“Just randomly you’re going to test people because they’re on public assistance? Will we test people because they’re on Social Security? Will we test people because they’re veterans? Or, then, just test the Legislature and start with the State House.”
Later in the evening, Malveaux was guest of honor and gave the keynote address at the Deltas’ “Women of Excellence” program. The sorority honored local women for their achievement in the arts, education, business, health, college, humanitarian, and outstanding organization.
Malveaux was presented the key to Riviera Beach, a predominantly black waterfront city that neighbors West Palm Beach, by Councilwoman Pro Tem Billie Brooks in the absence of Mayor Bishop Thomas Masters, who was with his ill mother.
More than 500 guests attended the elegant affair held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Nova Southeastern University’s Palm Beach Campus was among the businesses that gave support to the function.
“We have so many alumni who are members of the sorority, who are graduates of Nova Southeastern’s master’s and doctoral programs,” said George E. Dungee, campus director.
Dungee said the historically black Bennett College is located in his hometown.
“I know the campus very well,” he said.
Nerissa Edden, event coordinator, said the sorority was honored to have Malveaux as the featured speaker, saying, “She is such a powerhouse and a wealth of knowledge.”
Malveaux autographed copies of her book, Surviving and Thriving 365 Facts in Black Economic History at the event.
Daphne Taylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.